A black drape spans the stage. Brixton awaits rap royalty. This third and final night of the Little Simz South London take-over is another sold-out affair for the bold (some with face-masks) and the beautiful wanting a glimpse of the “real life queen in the flesh” or as she simply prefers to be called – Simbi.
Such is the orchestral extravagance of her new album opener Introvert no one would be surprised if the curtain fell to reveal Little Simz being carried aloft in a sedan chair – accompanied by a fawning entourage fanning her with palm leaves and compliments. This is Sarf London though and Simbi ain’t no prima donna princess – she always keeps it real. Instead we get an immaculately braided figure walking out in a baggy hoodie and comfy trousers and shades – presumably to shield her eyes from the glare of adoration Brixton Academy is beaming back at Little Simz tonight.
There’s so much to celebrate. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert has rightly topped or featured heavily in many end of year album polls. Acclaim that has propelled Ms Ajikawo to this Brixton residency where tonight she proudly proclaims that she’s apparently “the first woman to sell out Brixton three nights in a row.”.
This sky domed venue has always been great at recreating the outdoor festival vibe within the confines of its former cinema walls. An hour into the set a fan is raised up and is swaying on her partner’s shoulders and Little Simz is conducting the crowd asking – “you guys ready for some singing?” – and the smoothly familiar anthem for freedom and self-determination Selfish begins.
Brixton also briefly transforms into the Niger delta as Little Simz recounts a jungle fable and an encounter with a snake during the hypnotic drumbeats of Fear No Man. The expansive vibe is in contrast to the intimacy and often autobiographical nature of her songs.
Simbi is really just warming up. She’s shed the hoodie for a palm tree shirt and dabbles with her keyboards during the mid-80s club groove of Protect My Energy. An exercise in self-love and praise follows with an invitation for everyone to shout “bless bless bless” before Little Simz thanks everyone for making her feel so welcome.
The most rapturous reaction is reserved for her earlier, grimier work especially tracks from the Mercury nominated 2019 album Grey Area like 101 FM and Venom and last year’s arresting alarm call Might Bang, Might Not.
Almost two hours after first gracing the stage Little Simz has mesmerised the Academy and a sea of arms wave and sway in unison as Woman smooches along with its “Yoruba girl tougher than imperial leather…” sentiment.
She really isn’t a queen though. Humble throughout, she never uttered a word about her nomination for four Brit Awards. Little Simz true majesty is her ability to elevate people with her lyrics and her timely pep talks raising ambitions and creating self-belief. As another inspirational rapper once said “I wear the crown. You wear the crown. So proud to say that we all wear the crown…”.