Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

Little Simz – I Love You, I Hate You

Not a coronation, but we still at least like her…


Nortey Dowuona: Little Simz has largely spent the past decade making some of the greatest rap in general and got lapped almost instantly. But it hasn’t made her bitter or truly earthbound; in fact, she’s flourished. This deeply baroque, swamp string laden ode to her missing father, riding on a roll of kicks and tiptoeing snares and crushed pianos and buoyed by stinging horns and crowing choirs, is a statement of intent — but intent to grow and move past missing and resenting her father, and choosing to let go of him. I’d like to see Baby Aitch do that.

Leah Isobel: The ambivalence of the title filters through every part of the song; much of Little Simz’s first and third verses could just as easily be about music and the emotional demands of public visibility as about her family. Even in the second verse, which focuses in on her relationship with her absent father, the tension between what to show and what to hide, manifests as disconnected present-tense observations rather than a coherent narrative. That’s not a bad choice — the conflict is honest, and it works with the beat’s lush build-then-deflate structure. But it makes the heaviest lines (“Is you a sperm donor or a dad to me?”) feel less impactful than they could.

Oliver Maier: Simz’s rapping comes alive at the exact moment she stops talking in aphorisms and digs her teeth into the topic at hand. The “Jesus Walks”-ish beat is a sturdy canvas, though, as before, the fully orchestrated passages feel pompous and overblown, undermining the material.

Tobi Tella: Every mixed feeling bubbling up to the surface in subdued ferocity: understanding without grace.

Alfred Soto: Loquaciousness is the point, and the way the sampled chorus flashes like heat lightning complicates her blunt talk, often overwhelming it. 

Andrew Karpan: Closer to Kendrick’s idea of Little Simz than her last ice-funk workout, it’s intimacy with a vibe. It’s perhaps a better fit for the slam poet-insistence of her bars, even if the production is eventually forced to step out of the way in order to keep the spotlight on center stage, scrolling absentmindedly through a series of brassy clichés that never stay around long enough to land.

Juana Giaimo: It’s so hard to put a rating to a song that feels so cathartic. Her rapping is like an inner monologue — a very well structured and coherent one — and everything surrounding it is like its soundtrack. If in “Introvert” the orchestration was grand and imposing, here it’s more intimate, being in synch with her story. These are hard songs to think of only as singles, but I guess that showing a little bit of a bigger project is also the aim of singles. 

Reader average: [7] (1 vote)

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