When UK rapper Little Simz took the stage at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory, this week, fans could hardly contain themselves. Decked out in sweatpants and a golden halo of light, the rapper broke into a humble grin that would make anyone believe she was unaccustomed to such a reception.
“How you feeling? How you feeling?” she asked, a nod to the lyrics of one of her first hits Intervention prompting a rowdy response from her cult-followers as she launched into the set with infectious energy. “Nobody told me it was going to be this fucking hot in Australia!” she remarked in her dry London accent, and continued to bounce relentlessly around the Factory’s intimate stage.
Still humble to the core, despite gaining praise from rap royalty (Kendrick Lamar has spoken, he says she is the “illest”), Simz delved into the meaning from some of her earlier tracks such as God Bless Mary (dedicated to a patient childhood neighbour who supported the young rapper’s penchant for live music) although some tracks such as Wings were self explanatory in revealing the rapper’s journey: “Nobody handed me my dream, I had to chase it”.
That it was her first time playing tracks off her freshly-dropped album Stillness In Wonderland was not evident. Simz kicked-off the album’s live debut with the haunting and enchanting arrangements of Doorways + Trust Issues, which was followed by a succession of future chart-toppers from the LP. At some point a guitar appeared and Simz exhibited yet another side of her versatility as she crooned the prickly guitar lines of the more soulful track, Poison Ivy.
But Simz was in no way intending to end the show on a soft note. Breaking the audience out of their spell as DJ OTG cranked the bass, Simz hurled herself into the awaiting arms of her fans who engulfed the rapper with enthusiasm (the music cut out momentarily as she was retrieved).
“I hope you’ve enjoyed your time in wonderland,” Simz smiled, sweetly before whipping the crowd into a final frenzy with the grimy, electronic beats of Dead Body and Picture Perfect. We did, we did.