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//Rapper Little Simz performs at the Openair Frauenfeld music festival on July 12, 2019 in Frauenfeld, Switzerland. Little Simz released her new EP “Drop 6” independently on May 7. Photo obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

Independent U.K. rapper Little Simz’s “Drop 6” extended play, released independently on May 7, is an unfulfilled but still satisfying appetizer that symbolizes the environment of its upbringing.

Little Simz, born Simbiatu Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, was born in the London borough of Islington to Nigerian parents. She has been active since 2010, dropping a handful of mixtapes, EPs and albums. Last year, she broke out with arguably 2019’s best hip hop album — “GREY Area.” That record is a fist-in-the-air meditation in conscious hip hop while exploring themes of single motherhood, relationships, racism, sexism and mental health. Her tight flow and ambition helped propel her to stardom and earned her a nomination for the Mercury Prize, the U.K. award given to the country’s best album.

Little Simz began recording “Drop 6” in early April, she said in an Instagram post. It’s clear that the lack of proper studio access due to the pandemic limits the production. The opening track, “might bang, might not” explores the album’s minimalist-by-necessity beats with a hypnotic baseline, panting, a raw drum pattern and a siren in the chorus. But this is the most satisfying beat on the EP. “one life, might live” sounds like an extension of the opener with a sparse beat that dilutes the impact of the hook. The third track, “damn right” is the least satisfying of the five songs. The track opens with cacophonic guitar screeches that remind the listener of the attitude from “GREY Area.” The rose-tinted glasses are ripped off when the beat shifts to an isolated trap snare beat is the most egregious cliche in recent hip hop.

As unsatisfying as these beats and the 13-minute run time might be, they’re not a problem if you accept that this was the only way we’d get new Little Simz music in 2020. 

The tools at Little Simz’s disposal don’t match her ambition, but she is able to maintain the lyrical bar set on “GREY Area.”

Little Simz has developed a reputation for calling out sexism in hip-hop with fire bars that lift herself and put offenders in their place.The aforementioned opener, “might bang, might not,” continues that trend.

“I’m back on my bullshit/You ain’t seen no one like me since/Lauryn Hill back in the ’90s, bitch/Feeling myself, yeah, I might be, bitch,” she spits on the opening track. “Got an old soul and you know that/Bet the olders make way for the ’90s kid.”

Some of GREY Area’s brightest moments came when Little Simz rapped heartfelt messages to her daughter and embraced being a single mother. Her mission to call out sexism brings sunshine to a landscape that is darkened by egotistical males demeaning women. “might live, might not,” “you should call me mum” and “where’s my lighter” add more fuel to that fire.

“Drop 6” doesn’t break any new ground nor would one choose this EP over “GREY Area” but Little Simz’s familiar swagger is a welcome comfort in the middle of a global pandemic.

Score: 8/10

Best tracks: “might bang, might not” and “where’s my lighter”

Worst track: “damn right”