Viper meets the London rapper making noise overseas…

A blog once told me “when life gives you lemons, you go get some ‘Mandarin Oranges’ from Little Simz.” If you haven’t yet heard the zen, Sango-produced track taken from the North London emcee’s ‘E.D.G.E.’ EP (Every Day Gets Easier) captures a stream of conscious where she’s focused on the past, present and future. You may miss moments like this in the flurry of her rhymes but you’ll eventually grasp that Little Simz is naturally complex and destined to create music. She may take on side gigs then and again, like being founder/ A&R of a music group [AGE 101] and studying Music Technology part time, but her voice has been carefully crafted for 12 years. And here’s to 89 years more.

It’s Tuesday evening in August and the weather is lousy in New York. But I can’t complain as Little Simz explains on Skype that she sounds different because of a fading cold. Speaking to Simz, I’m not surprised that she’s as well mannered as she was in between songs at her first NYC show a few months prior. The 20 year old artist was trying to gauge the crowd’s level of enthusiasm beyond the front row, until the slow building piano of ‘Bars Simzson’ came out the speakers. Simz took it from there. But let’s go back almost a year ago… Although she had been acting in TV shows and working on music for years, the “take me as I am because I give no fucks” attitude on her ‘Blank Canvas’ project in 2013 reintroduced her as a contender for everyone’s rookie list. And it’s worked, as she’s given the fans what they want – new music – with unconventional promotion techniques, aka none.

When asked to explain what her life as a painting looks like now versus later down the road, she let out a long, pensive sigh and slowly said, “Man… There’ll be so many different colours in the palette but for now, my painting would probably only have a dash of blue. Compared to what I’m planning to do with my career, I have not started. I’m not discrediting myself but I know where I’m planning to be.” She modestly sidesteps two MOBO Award nominations in 2014, shopping sprees courtesy of Diamond Supply Co. and international shows, all before her 21st birthday. She continues, “All of the things that have happened, I expected it. Yo, I’m reeeally about to kill shit.” As for the dash of blue – “Blue reminds me of a dream. When I think of dreams, I just think of blue. It feels like everything that’s happened is a dream.”

This is an extract from the Autumn/Winter 14 Issue of Viper Magazine. Read more from the magazine here. Buy physical and digital copies here.
Words by Bryan Hahn.
Photos by Verena Stefanie Grotto.

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