A tough-rhyming rapper whose approach is equally effective over jagged and smooth productions, Little Simz (originally Lil Simz) is also known as an actor for her recurring roles on the BBC's Spirit Warriors and E4's Youngers. Her early career consisted of underground releases such as 2014's E.D.G.E. and Blank Canvas. Her official debut, A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons, arrived in 2015.
Born Simbi Ajikawo in Islington, England, she gained notice through her television gigs but saw music as her real calling long before she reached the screen. She released her first mixtape in 2010 and continued to issue freely available material — including Blank Canvas, a mixtape supported by Jay-Z's Life+Times website — for several years. Her 2014 output was prolific, a period during which four EPs came out and impressed peers and DJs alike. In early 2015, she was crowned Breakthrough Artist of the Year at BBC DJ Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Awards. That September, she released her first proper album, A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons, through her own AGE 101 label. Two years of intense touring followed, culminating in her second album, 2017's Stillness in Wonderland, which alluded to her experiences in the music industry and her lifestyle on tour. She followed with 2019's GREY Area, featuring appearances by Cleo Sol, Chronixx, Michael Kiwanuka, and Little Dragon. ~ Andy Kellman