Pussy In Power: Little Simz Bossed It At EartH Hackney

Pussy In Power: Little Simz Bossed It At EartH Hackney

An explosive, emotional homecoming show..

This year, finally, Little Simz is getting her props - a Mercury Nomination for her stunning album ‘Grey Area’ and international recognition for her turn in Top Boy - and she’s handling it all with trademark grace and poise. She’s never been here for the accolades, though, just for the art. 

The north London MC - and multi instrumentalist - inspires real devotion in her fans, for her fierce bars as much for her vulnerable, honest lyricism and experimental approach to production. But this is home turf for Simz, so the crowd at EartH Hackney are bringing a particularly poignant kind of high energy.

When Little Simz bursts on stage to the swelling, rolling heavy bass of ‘Boss’, spitting the opening lines - “Stop fucking with my heart” - through a megaphone, it’s clear she’ll more than match this energy. Her skillful, skippy bars are lent extra weight by the live band and urgency by the megaphone, like a powerful call to arms:  “Unapologetically I’ll be bossing it.”

Simz and her full band, glowing in matching all-white outfits, take us into fan favourite ‘God Bless Mary’ - an older track that clearly means as much to the MC as this homecoming gig does (“This is THE show,” Simz exclaims, beaming out into the crowd); an ode to her long-suffering neighbour, who put up with the noise Simz made in her room as a teenager learning production and honing her craft as a rapper.

‘Selfish’ provides a joyous, shimmying moment, the crowd along swaying together and the band proving their versatility, hopping from smooth tracks like this to the hard-hitting ‘Offence’ and the snaking synths of ‘Venom’. 

Simz is staggering in her vocal range too, jumping from sharp, cutting tones to a softer, more vulnerable timbre in a heartbeat: from the gunshot speed of her ‘Pressure’ bars, to the laid back wooziness of ‘Flowers’.

She demonstrates her prowess as a musician as well as an MC too - a Hendrix-esque guitar solo here, a drumming solo there - and she’s just as at ease spraying the hardest of bars on the mic as she is serenely serenading the crowd, seated on a stool.

In these calmer, more still moments, she gives us a few tracks from 2016’s ‘Stillness In Wonderland’, songs she’s deeply proud of, exposing a real depth of feeling through her connection with the crowd.

The night’s best moment is ‘101FM’ - a nostalgic soundscape of days gone by, harking to pirate radio, video games, nights with mates. It’s a joyful, love-filled tune that infects the crowd with its energy - screaming in unison to the gem of a line, “Yo wagwan sistren!” - as Simbi from Highbury looks like she’s having the night of her life. 

She’s a generous performer too, throwing flowers to her fans, dedicating songs to “anyone we’ve lost”, name-checking the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Biggie, Tupac and Amy Winehouse. Because for Little Simz, who's now bonafide UK rap royalty, this isn’t just about her - it’s about all of us.
 

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Photography: Tamiym Cader

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