Scales and tails.
In the spirit of Dagon’s sporadic Chillin’ With Fishes series, I decided to write about this great hip-hop artist I just discovered recently. Then it dawned on me, why not do another collaboration with the man himself? He regularly sifts through the genre and determines what is rap, trap or just crap, so I’m sure he’d have some new gems to show us all. Considering we’re two of the only writers here burning our respective arses off below the equator this Summer, it is always a good time to find something to chill to.
Last time Dagon offered up some dreamy rap to float away with from Clouds and showed us the soulful siren named Lianne La Havas, while I encouraged you to light some plants to the sounds of Pacific Yew‘s “Money Tree”. This time Dagon has some U.K. fire, and I’ve got a young lady named Sampa The Great to show you all. I’ll hand it over to Dagon to get this thing going.
Little Simz is a 21-year-old rapper hailing from Islington, U.K. What this british gyal may lack in age, she sure makes up for in flow – the combination of her accent and her rhythm is pure fire. Simz’s flow is a controlled flame though, burning over soulful or hard hitting beats at varying speeds, never snapping out of the pocket. Despite some similarities with a few U.K. grime/rap artists, there’s a clear bridge between her style and that of American rappers Mick Jenkins and Isaiah Rashad. Besides her musical prowess, the young artist has also been developing an interesting visual identity in her videos.
The Theory Of…
This is the record that got me on board. It’s actually released under the name SPACE AGE, a quartet of four MCs over four tracks: Little Simz, Josh Arcé, Chuck 20 and Tilla Arcé. The production on The Theory Of… is sublime – using modern elements to create a classic feel. Right on the opener “No Pressure”, Simz blew me away with the way she switched her flows, reminding me a bit of Skepta and his unique delivery. She slows things down for the chorus right after setting the tone for the whole song, a characteristic that repeats itself over the EP. Every MC in this release is worthy of your time, but Simz just steals the show.
A Curious Tale Of Trials + Persons
“Women can be kings” is the motto that kicks off Little Simz’ debut album. Released in October 2015, this collection of 10 songs sees the artist claim her throne by displaying her versatility. From the aggression in “Persons” and “Dead Body” to more reflexive cuts like “Wings” to the glorious “Gratitude”, there’s nothing that this young woman can’t do. In modern hip hop, the ability to do hooks is almost as important as the actual rapping; A Curious Tale delivers both, and signals at what could become a stellar career. – Dagon
Sampa The Great
Born in Zambia, Sampa’s family moved to Botswana at a young age where she started rapping at age 9 after hearing the 2pac track “Changes”. She quickly encountered difficulty trying to be respected as a performer due to her gender. After recently moving to Sydney, Australia to pursue a BA in Audio Engineering she has been productive and dropped a couple of mixtapes, continuing her activism in musical form. The result is phenomenal. Blending the influences of Lauryn Hill, Nas, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Nina Simone, Thandiswa Mazwai and Kendrick Lamar, Sampa creates a unique yet accessible atmosphere from which to launch her expressive and effortlessly stylish vocals from.
The production combines elements of the old and the new, with similar sonic attributes and soundscapes to those found on Kimbra’s tracks or Kendrick Lamar’s acclaimed To Pimp a Butterfly from last year. Sampa’s lyrics are cerebral but always remain cool, calm and collected. There are times when her voice blends in so well with the rest of the composition it seems too good to be true. There isn’t much more I can say to do this artist justice. I will however say that she is too damn modest, as I think her records should be labelled Sampa The Supreme. Having already done some collaborations around the Australian scene, including one with Hiatus Kaiyote, I expect Sampa to take on the hip-hop world, grab it whole and run with it as far as this Earth can take her.
Weapon Chosen (above) is her latest work. Check the track “Prince Miniqueen” for that Kendrick vibe I mentioned earlier, replete with some Australian magpie call samples. You can pick up her previous work The Great Mixtape for free on the Wondercore Island bandcamp page.