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‘Drop 7’ EP Review: A Sonic Experiment that Leaves Room for Growth

2.5 Stars

Little Simz released her EP, "Drop 7," on Feb. 9.
Little Simz released her EP, "Drop 7," on Feb. 9. By Courtesy of Little Simz / Age 101 Music / AWAL
By Burnie E. Legette, Contributing Writer

“Drop 7” is the latest extended play by UK conscious rapper Simbi Ajikawo, better known by her stage name Little Simz, and is her first release since her 2022 studio album “NO THANK YOU.” This new project’s sound is a departure from what is familiar for Little Simz as she expands her sonic palette, experimenting with the percussive sounds of electronic dance music. As the cyborg version of Simz depicted on the cover art suggests, this EP is an attempt to blend her organic artistry with synthetic, artificial production. She accomplishes this with mixed success.

The opening track, “Mood Swings,” is a fitting tone-setter for the EP. As the rhythmic hi-hats and thumping bass enter, the track signals that this will be a different sound from what Simz listeners are used to. From the distorted vocals to the hollow-sounding bass, everything about this track sounds manufactured, a quality that runs the risk of compromising Simz’s usual organic, vulnerable brand of hip-hop.

Lyrically, Simz is at her most minimal, giving way to the raw, rhythmic emphasis of EDM — one need only look to the track’s refrain, “But I've been havin’ mood swings, mood swings, mood swings, mood swings / Mood swings, mood swings, mood swings, mood swings.” Thematically, the song is not very cohesive. In its focus on synthetic, rhythmic beats, it loses some of the emotional potency that is so unique to Little Simz.

Simz leans further into foreign influences on the track “Fever,” paying homage to Funk Mandelão, a Brazilian style of dance music originating in São Paulo — even delivering a verse in Portuguese. However, like the track “Torch” that follows, “Fever” has one of Simz’s weakest hooks yet: “He say, ‘Mamacita, very nice to meet ya / see you is a leader, can I take you deeper? / Oh, you give me fever.” While Simz attempts a more rhythmic, danceable sound on “Drop 7,” “Fever” and “Torch,” like many of the project’s other weak moments, are too low-energy to provide excitement. The EP as a whole lacks dynamics, making its exploration of EDM and Funk Mandelão appear one-dimensional and functioning more as a gimmick than as anything substantive.

Leveraging its position at the midpoint of the album, “SOS” is a standout track. Its droning, repetitive drumbeat becomes hypnotic over the course of the track’s runtime. In its latter half, Simz’s vocals merge with the beat, yielding an ethereal sound. It’s a nice touch of production that separates the track from the homogeneity that plagues much of the rest of the project. This momentum carries through to “I Ain’t Feelin It,” which features one of the better hooks on this EP. Simz’s vocals are soft and sensual to the point of being a whisper, and the whirling synths underneath create a trippy atmosphere.

The EP hits a weak point with “Power,” which — clocking in at only 55 seconds long — still manages to feel like a filler track. Simz delivers one of her more developed verses of the EP, but she sacrifices her poetic lyricism and themes for what feels like empty braggadocio. “If I said that I’m the greatest then I mean it, mean it,” she raps. As a result, “Power” is the most forgettable track on the project.

Yet Little Simz strikes a balance between the demands of minimalist EDM and her own unique, distinctive brand of introspection on “Far Away.” Here, she is at her best as she reminisces on lost love, bringing back the vulnerability that made her previous projects so powerful. The track also has the catchiest hook on the record — “Don’t wait around for me, my baby / Can’t bear to see your tears, my darling” — which, when delivered in Simz’s soft, touching voice, strikes a chord that no other song on the album quite does. While not exciting enough to carry the project as a whole, “Far Away” shows that the EP’s production can suit Simz, which gives fans enough to be confident that her future is bright.

“Drop 7” is a somewhat interesting sonic experiment with no strong identity. The EP’s lack of strong hooks holds it back, and in her attempts to change her style to fit the EDM genre, Simz doesn’t play to her many developed strengths as an artist.

There is not much to dislike on “Drop 7,” but there is not much to love either. Many of its faults could be overlooked if there were tighter grooves or more ambitious production, but “Drop 7” prompts no strong feelings one way or the other — a rare feat for a Little Simz release.

However, as should be the case for any good experiment, the listener leaves “Drop 7” with a more mature understanding of Simz’s work and what makes her special as an artist. Simz’s complex and conceptual themes on previous releases are all the more impressive in their absence. “Drop 7” evokes a yearning for a more ambitious Little Simz project because we know what she is capable of; she rightfully has set the standard high for herself as an artist. So, for all its faults, “Drop 7” is not a wasted opportunity but rather a learning experience, operating as a testing ground for new styles and ideas that may be refined on future Little Simz projects.

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