Little Simz Brings The Heat To A Glacial NYC On 'Stillness In Wonderland' Tour
“She probably brings out the most diverse crowds.”
Straight from the mouth of a fellow Simbi fan, shivering with anticipation to finally get into Webster Hall Saturday night (Mar. 11). The rest of the devoted herd huddled in a congested line, inching closer and closer to the door for the heat the UK rapper was about to deliver to warm up the below thirty-degree weather that our coats, scarves and hats couldn’t seem to defeat on their own.
As we all piled in one by one in as much of a spacious, respectful manner as a flock of fans could, CJ Fly of “Pro-era-era, Pro era-era” entered the room. The mellow flows he brought to the “Studio” stage as he spat his “Motto” into the mic, filled the chilled room with some warmth as the crowd chanted along with Captain Fly:
“She know she wanna roll with me, She know she wanna roll with me
Ain't ridin' in a stolen Jeep
Ain't ridin' in a stolen V
I'm carrying the O on me, I'm carrying the O on me
So I'm just ducking police
Ducking the D's, I say f*** the police
My n**** puff on your weed”
CJ Fly continued to warm not only the room, but the hearts of everyone in the crowd as he asked everyone to put two fingers to the sky as he dedicated spots to his late grandfather and Capital Steez.
As Simz's DJ took the stage, he started spinning “Picture Perfect,” and asked us if we were ready for Simbi. I peered through the silhouettes of the two fans ahead of me and awaited to follow the British rabbit into the blue and pink-tinted foggy journey we were going to embark on through NYC’s Wonderland – our collective Wonderland.
Little Simz entered Webster Hall’s stage nearly just as excited to perform as we were to watch, sing, rap and dance along to the sonic fantasy world we were about to embark on with her. But, Simbi’s honest, warm and immensely grateful demeanor bridged the gap between fantasy and reality creating a musical-getaway “home away from home” for every individual that came to support her.
Come hang out with us all , we're fam 💙 https://t.co/BakMwN6Vj9
— she (@LittleSimz) March 11, 2017
Even if you’re afraid of coming to the show alone, the Stillness In Wonderland rapper assures that her tunes weaves the energy of all in the room together to create a space welcoming to any and everybody. Possibly, the reason why the crowd is in fact, so diverse.
Simbi Ajikawo brought us back to her home as we collectively asked God to “Bless Mary,” her next door neighbor who endured the loud thumps of bass oozing from her speakers and evasive vocals creeping into the walls of her home – yet she never complained or called the cops, she let Simbi rock out. And for that, we’re all thankful. Simz let us join her in thanking Mary, because without her, we probably would’ve been somewhere else that Saturday night.
Prepared for battle, Little Simz invites us to her corner of the ring as she leans against the DJ’s table ready to mark her territory as a “Bad To The Bone” “King Of Hearts.” Embodying Sour Patch Kid’s “sour and sweet” nature, Simz effortlessly transitions from her thankful form of bowing and smiling to her zoned state of sweating and spewing fire through the mic and out the speakers warming us up even further. I mean, sometimes she “has to remind n***** who the f*** she is,” right?
In transitioning from a live guitar solo to performing the “forbidden love” song, “Poison Ivy” over its original beat to calling the crowd to raise any light – phone, lighter, etc – in their possession for the “final” song, with every ounce of energy and versatility Simz brought to the room, the crowd magnetically drew closer and closer to the 23 year-old artist. Probably the greatest magnetic pulls between Simbi and her herd of loyal fans were during her live rendition of her beloved track, “Dead Body” and the actual, final song she performed that had to be restarted three times just to bring the right amount of energy. Her manager, Eddie Smith, who was tucked away behind the DJ’s table, even had to sneak in a swig of the “Hennything’s possible” juice upon a demand of 110% energy from everyone in the room. Simz and her crew brought nothing less as they all gathered on stage jumping up and down, cooling the crowd down as they used water bottles as water hoses, while the crowd fed off their energy and dished out 120% more.
— Eddie Smith (@Versetti) March 12, 2017
It’s the moments where the UK lyricist connects with the camoflauge-jacket wearing fan in the front row, rapping together “you don’t know the half you better chill” during her set of “One In Rotation” and the 5,000 English-accented thank you’s accompanied by just as many bows, that make someone feel like they want her to win – even if they’ve never listened to her music.
Even though my request was ill-timely, her team allowed me to speak with Little Simz after the show backstage amidst the thumping tunes of the following act nearly drowning out our conversation. As Simbi signed CDs, comic books, took pictures and just rapped it up with her fans, her manager, Eddie Smith, tried to persuade me that the sound at the venue was a 5 out of 10. While those of us in the crowd could agree it was probably all that we could’ve hoped for and more, Smith attested to the fact that he knew the show could've been so much better and that’s exactly what they aim for every show. His constructive perfectionism, the family vibes backstage and Simz’s own dedication and gratitude towards her supporters are exactly the reasons I hope they win. Because someone traveling from a small town in London to NYC to perform a sold-out show like Simbi did, doesn't happen often.
VIBE: How is it for you coming to your shows and getting to interact with your fans? I didn't even know you were going to do the meet and greet at the end, I thought that was pretty cool.
Little Simz: Oh yeah! I do that at every show because I'm always aware that it's bigger than me. Regardless of the fact that I've been traveling for days, I'm short of sleep, and I'm tired and all these things -- it's really not about me. It's beyond me and it's about the people that wait for me to come to their city and save money and pay for their ticket. So, it doesn't cost me anything to spare half an hour to say hello and offer time to take a photo. But for me, it's also a reminder of why I want to continue to do it. It's always nice for them to tweet you and say, "I love you".. there's something about looking someone in the eyes and having that human interaction. It gives me a fire in my belly to keep me to continue. It costs nothing and they go home happy and I go home happy and we just repeat... So, it's cool.
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VIBE: It was a really good show. I was just so surprised because you were saying thank you after every song and you seemed so shocked at the response. Did you think it was going to be a smaller turnout?
Little Simz: I did, yeah, actually. I try to live with no expectation. And as much as I may seem active on social media, I'm really not. I don't know who's listening to me, so when I come out and I see a crowd I'm like "Oh s***!" People actually know of me, or like care enough to want to come see me live. And for that, I'm eternally grateful because I've done shows where there's been five people in the crowd and I still give my everything. I'm mad appreciative. So when it's a room like that, it's even more like "Ughh! Blessings on blessings."
VIBE: That must be an amazing feeling. I must ask, why was Alice In Wonderland the one to work with this album?
Little Simz: Ooooh, why was that the one? I think it's because, for anyone who’s seen the film, I felt like there's something about her story and my story that has agreeable symmetry. I feel our stories are very parallel. And I just felt like at the time that I'd written the album, that was the perfect way I could describe it. If someone were to ask me how I was feeling like when I wrote the album, I would say, "feeling like Alice in Wonderland." It just kind of made sense for me to talk about her reality. I call it Stillness In Wonderland because I consider myself a very introverted and still person. I'm very polite, I'm very social. But at the same time, I'm very much so in my own head and in my own space. And there's so much that I can give in experiment. So what you get it may have those characteristics, those qualities in a Wonderland, which is in other words, the industry. You know? I don't know, I hope it works. All along I think I just wanted people to feel like they had a bit of a visual experience. So when you listen to the record, it feels like you're immersed in Wonderland.
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VIBE: Funny that you bring up the fact that you're very introverted. How was it working with another person who is sort of the same way and traveled the same career path as you in terms of starting off early on, with WondaGurl on "Bad To The Bone"?
Little Simz: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. WondaGurl is someone that I'll forever champion. Just like the mere fact that she's young, a black woman.. KILLING. I can't not support. To know what I'm about and to know what I've been living, it doesn't make sense for me not to support her. So I feel like when you put two people together with that, of that caliber... and then Bibi Bourelly, it's bound to be something special. So, it's always good. I'm here to work with WondaGurl anytime. It's crazy because I just came from Toronto and she was in London. So we just missed each other which is annoying but, yeah. WondaGurl is sick, man. She's gonna do great things, no doubt. For sure.
VIBE: So, for the release of Stillness, you attested that your fans are used to a speed of 10 projects within three years, but you slowed down because of tours and traveling. Do you see yourself getting back to that or you enjoy the pace you're going now?
You know what? I've come to realize that with me I can't -- it frustrates me when I'm not able to create. It drives me crazy. If I'm not able to make music, I understand that I get the best out of myself when I'm under pressure and I work really well under pressure. And I get the best out of myself when I live my life. Because my music is very personal, so everything that I've experienced, it all comes out in my music. I'm not one to just talk about it, I just write it. Know what I'm saying? I think I'm just learning new strategies and I don't over-saturate things with little somethings, because it gets to be like "Chill. No, you're good." But I just want to take my time delivering quality as opposed to quantity. I would hope it's what has come of this album. Because while I was making it, I really didn't release anything for the whole year and I was able to produce Stillness in Wonderland. I'm not saying I'm going to take three to four years to make a record, I just want it to be a little bit more thought out, but at the same time if I'm sitting on bangers, I'll put it on SoundCloud. I'm just trying to find a balance.