Stillness in Wonderland
[Age 101; 2017]
Over the past three years, Little Simz, the up-and-coming London hip-hop star, has shown her range. Her 2015 underground hit, “Dead Body”, hinted toward a dark and brooding artist while 2016’s AGE 101 DROPX EP aimed toward a more electronic approach. 2016’s conceptual effort Stillness in Wonderland continues in her path of unexpected turns with an album that is mellow and soulful, reminiscent of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun.
The album is a concept album, loosely based around the story of Alice in Wonderland, with Simz playing the part of the young woman trying to find here way around a new, uncertain world. Whether this uncertainty is a statement on the world at large or her own emergence in the music world is open for interpretation. Recurring references to white rabbits and chessire cats can be found throughout the album, but it doesn’t stay buoyed the metaphor, venturing into discussions of Black Lives Matter and her own personal trials with a broken heart.
“ Poison Ivy”:
An album loosely based around Alice in Wonderland is likely to lean toward the more psychedelic side sonically, but the approach by Simz even-keeled and soulful. The album feels more like a meditative reflection on that metaphorical journey into Wonderland rather than an all out, drugged addled hallucination. Simz spits her rhymes with a calm, collected delivery, and often, she infuses her lyrics with brief stints into the melodic.
“No More Wonderland”:
Over the past three years, Little Simz has shown a lot of promise but has failed to produce a mixtape with superior production value and a thematic focus. With Stillness in Wonderland, she finally delivers on that promise.