Little Simz takes a victory lap with ‘NO THANK YOU’


Hugo Pletcher

Little Simz displays on “NO THANK YOU” that even at her most braggadocious, she is still a quick-witted, important figure in hip hop.

UK hip hop artist Little Simz released her fifth studio album, “NO THANK YOU,” on Dec. 12, 2022. “NO THANK YOU” is a victory lap after her critically acclaimed “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert” yet still has enough substance to stand on its own as a unique and welcome addition to Little Simz’s discography.

Little Simz is a rapper who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She has been known to speak her truth with very tight rhyme schemes, and she has a great ear for production. These trends continue on “NO THANK YOU.”

The first song, “Angel,” is a smooth opener that immediately sets the tone of the album– an unapologetic victory lap filled with callouts, skepticism and some well earned braggadocious behavior. “Stop trying to box me, and there’s no way you can place me / Hit ‘em with a classic then I got a little lazy,” is some of the boastful writing that energizes the feel of the album. The listener cannot help but feel celebratory along with Simz.

The next track, “Gorilla,” immediately lulls the listener in with a very infectious, yet tranquil beat. The lyrics feature some more bragging, along with Simz recounting her come up story as she gained maturity. With explosive horn sections that separate the verses and compliment the beat nicely, “Gorilla” stands as one of the most replayable songs on the record.

Track three, “Silhouette,” is an inspiring song; the track features a tranquil beat with introspective writing that many can relate to. “Better do the work, if you ain’t looked in the mirror yet / I don’t wanna live my life being a silhouette,” are two lines that both express to the listener to focus on their own issues before worrying about anything else, the lines mentions how she wants to be taken seriously and they tell how she does not want to be overshadowed or overlooked. Little Simz uses the tracks six minute length to prove that she both deserves the same credit as other artists, but that she also won’t let people drag her down.

The following song, “No Merci,” is a feel good track that has confident, witty lines, strong delivery, some more intense themes and a playful beat to tie the whole concept together wonderfully. It is impressive how seamless Simz is able to implement more pressing topics into “No Merci” without it obstructing the playful tone otherwise conveyed.

One such theme mentioned on the song is that of equity, where Simz raps, “Gimme equity if you about it / We been here climbing these mountains,” which establishes the Little Simz is not afraid to challenge any oppression she has faced. This remains true when she mentions the flaws of large record labels manipulating artists. “Take your time, be sure / They want you rushing life decisions over a three-course meal / Next thing you know, you’re doing free tours,” is a truth that often goes overlooked in the music industry, but Simz sheds light on the topic.

Track five, “X,” contains a beat that builds as the song continues, ending with an almost cinematic instrumental. “X” finds Simz speaking more on the oppression she has faced in life and also her pride as a Black woman. Passionate lyrics with stellar delivery allow for Little Simz to excellently display her truth while being taken seriously.

The sixth track, “Heart on Fire” contains some of the simplest production on the entire record, but the listener can soon tell that it is completely intentional in order to allow Simz’s lyrics to stand out as much as possible. She tells about the experience of gaining traction as a successful musician and the struggles that come along with it.

First mentioned, is the idea of people from the outside who do not know the struggle, making harsh comments. “Funny how you can literally give your everything / Somebody gonna turn around and tell you you ain’t gave enough,” recounts critics and haters bashing the passions and pain that have gone into Simz’s works.

The idea of materialism corrupting the brain as success is found is also rapped about; “We all start off so pure / Do it for the love, nothing more / Nah, maybe to cop mum a house but nothing more,” and then goes onto say “15 to 100 shoes nothing more / By the time you know it, that list never stops growing / Then you don’t know what you even do this for.” These lines are powerful, as they show the progression of passion being lost as wealth takes over the mind of an artist. These more complex ideas are masterfully written about, while the song also contains a choir-sung chorus to better flesh out and give life to the track.

Track seven, “Broken,” is definitely a stand out on “NO THANK YOU.” With an immediate repetitive, ear worm chorus, Little Simz sets the stage for the most vulnerable song on the entire record. With lines such as, “Am I even enough? / Now you question yourself / Man, this week had been tough / Been saying that for a year / How do I disappear? / Can I hide from my fears?” Simz explores her self-doubt, troubled mental health, stress in the eye of the public and everything in between.

The longest song on the entire album at seven minutes long, Simz makes sure to eloquently use that time with no waste. She questions a modern stigmatization with the line, “Why’s is mental health a taboo in the black community?” which helps to not only show her reflective writing style, but it also displays her insight and awareness of her own mental health. This song is a staple for mental health discussion, and Simz does a great job breaking it down.

Track eight, “Sideways,” is when the album’s themes begin to become a little bit repetitive. The themes of boasting and flaunting continue, but at least it’s in a tasteful and humorous way. Simz says that “Right now this ain’t music one over looks / So in doing that you must be as dumb as you look,” cleverly bashing people who overlook her music, or write it off as unoriginal.

The following track, “Who Even Cares?” is probably the weakest track on the album. Cleo Sol delivers a heartfelt and vocally impressive chorus, however Little Simz chose to use auto tune on her verses that feels out of place and a bit rough on the ears. It contrasts the soothing vocals from Sol; however, in this case that is not a positive.

The album’s final track, “Control,” is a decent closing track as it helps to tie the album all together. The boastful lyricism is toned down here, as Simz brings a more gracious perspective to the table. Simz reaches out to her fans or to the people that care about her, requesting that they “Promise me you’ll be here when I’m low / Take my hand and never let it go.”

By mentioning themes of love and acceptance, while also using a choir to create a sense of unity and hope, Simz ends the album on a positive and thankful note.

Little Simz takes a well deserved celebratory break on “NO THANK YOU,” while still steadily showcasing her raw talent as a rapper, her sharp lyricism and her good ear for production. Little Simz does her best to prove why she needs to be taken seriously and after hearing this album, it will be challenging to ignore that request.