THE BRITISH ARE COMING! Little Simz and Dave Taking Over Hip Hop
Little Simz and Dave drop two of the best Hip Hop Albums Ever
The legend goes, on the evening of April 18, 1775, American Patriot Paul Revere rode through the Massachusetts towns of Somerville, Medford, and Arlington warning the colonists that “the British are coming!” The British were already in Massachusetts. Since 1765 the colonists (militias) and the British had a contentious relationship. There was a tax imposed on stamps — a tax (albeit an external one) on tea, paper, paints, and glass. The first shots were fired to start the American Revolutionary War following Revere’s midnight ride. The battle was called: The Battle of Lexington and Concord. And the rest is history.
On another night, 189 years later, The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Ed Sullivan Show had the eyeballs of nearly 45 percent (73 million) of U.S. television viewers that night. Just like when the colonist knew “The British were coming” American viewers knew The Beatles were coming. Beatles author and historian Bruce Spizer writes:
“For several weeks American radio stations had been saturating the airwaves with Beatles music. The power of radio had led to sales of millions of Beatles singles and albums. For weeks, the country had been warned “The Beatles Are Coming!” The American press picked up on the story, with several magazines and newspapers running feature stories on the group. Two days earlier, CBS and ABC showed film of The Beatles’ arrival in America at New York’s Kennedy Airport on their evening news shows. But the big event was The Beatles’ first live appearance on American television, which took place on the country’s most popular variety program, “The Ed Sullivan Show”.
And the rest is history.
Today, 55 years after The Beatles invaded America and 244 years since Revere’s message that “The British are coming” we are here to tell you that the British are taking over Hip Hop. English rappers, Slick Rick, Skepta, Stormy, Giggs, Dizzee Rascal, and MIA have had their play on radio, on streaming services and in the press. Not to mention the recently outed 21 Savage. Yes he is British. We don’t want to diminish their importance or contributions to music, but in many ways, they have been the set up for the real invasion. That invasion looks like it’s happening today. English rappers Little Simz and Dave are the invasion.
According to Metaritic, a website that aggregates reviews, Little Simz and Dave have the highest critically acclaimed albums of 2019. Yes, it’s early in the year, but both achieved “universal acclaim”. Dave’s Psychodrama that dropped March 8th has a 97 out of 100. Little Simz’s GREY Area that released March 1 has a 90 out of 100. Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. has a 95 out of 100 and Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, has a 91 out of 100.
// Little Simz
In 2016, Noisey’s Daisy Jones wrote a post for the vice channel: “Little Simz is Pioneering UK Rap, So Why Won’t the Industry Support Her.” She summed the post up by writing:
“If history has taught us anything, it’s that artists from the UK have never needed award systems to thrive or succeed, and Little Simz is no exception. Just take a look at Skepta, who is only now getting the credit he earned over ten years ago. Or Giggs, who has more chance of enrolling at Hogwarts than being asked to buss out “Whippin’ Excursion” at the Brits, despite pioneering a whole genre. Or Wiley, who won his first MOBO award in 2013, even though he helped build the foundations of grime a decade prior. In fact, grime and UK rap have a long-established tradition of refusing to rely on recognition from an industry that so stubbornly ignores them.”
On March 1, Little Simz, who Kendrick Lamar, as noted by Jones, described her as the “illest doing it right now,” dropped her third studio album “GREYArea.” In her review of the album, Independent’s music critic, Roisin O’Connor says, “What Simz does here is phenomenal. This is an album – and artist – to cherish.” GREY Area is the 25-year-old Simbi Ajikawo (Little Simz) third studio album. An album we have been playing on repeat since it dropped. GREY Area is a substantive, unapologetic, super confident and well-rounded masterpiece with raw connections to the very issues that are affecting core music listeners today.
It’s hard for us to pick our favorite track off of GREY Area. A signal of its strength. From it’s opening unapologetic track, ‘Offense,’ a reminder that Little Simz never went away, to her self-aware “Selfish,” with a catchy-as-fuck hook, to the bass tunes on “Boss” as she calls out the men who have wronged her to the somewhat frightening yet breathtaking “Venom” this album is sheer unblemished brilliance.
There is no way to top Alexis Petridis’s review of Dave’s Psychodrama. Read it. He called Psychodrama “the boldest and best British rap album in a generation.” He goes on to say:
“On the face of it, Psychodrama seems a strange way to go about achieving the latter: unvarnished and emotionally raw, it frequently makes for tough listening. Equally, as a showcase for Dave’s talents, it unquestionably works. His lyrics are smart, thoughtful, unflinching and self-aware. In a world where artists seem terrified of their audience hitting the fast-forward button, of skipping to the next song on the streaming service playlist, it’s a big ask to confront listeners with an 11-minute rap track, especially when the subject matter is as unremittingly grim as that of Lesley, but it’s genuinely gripping. Indeed, it says something about how incisive Dave is as a writer that the album lasts for the best part of an hour, and not a minute of its running time seems wasted or padded out. The end result is certainly the boldest album to emerge from UK hip-hop’s renaissance. It may also be the best. However big its ambitions, Dave has the talent to fulfil them.”
The only issue we have with Mr. Petridis’ review is his use of “British.” Psychodrama is not one of the best British rap albums in a generation; it is one of the best rap albums in a generation period. The album transcends England. Psychodrama is one of the most important albums I’ve listened to in a while, much like DAMN. Like Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. Dave’s Psychodrama should be taught in school. Lamar needed some time to get to where he was to craft DAMN. Dave unleashed his seminal work with his debut. Take a moment to think about that. We called Little Simz “GREY Area” a masterpiece, and maybe if we compare it to Dave’s Psychodrama we went a tad too far, but that shouldn’t be a negative on Little Simz, it just highlights how monumental Psychodrama is.
To top it all off Dave is 20-years old. He is a genius.
The British Are Here
There is something unfair about grouping both Little Simz and Dave into one post or one conversation. Sure they have similarities. Both are English rappers. Both are of Nigerian descent. And they both had albums release in March 2019. But they both deserve the full-court press that typically comes these says when performers like Jay-Z, Beyonce or Kendrick Lamar release an album. Little Simz and Dave are waiting for their Paul Revere or Ed Sullivan Show moment. We will let their albums do the talking.
Watch out U.S. hip hop artists. The British are here.