Honorable Mention: Little Simz’s Sometimes I Might Be Introvert opens with one of the most striking singles of the year, a six-minute long rap epic that strides through tempo changes, a spoken-word outro, and a grand, shifting orchestral arrangement with unerring confidence. As a thesis statement for the project as a whole, “Introvert” seems almost impossibly ambitious — except the rest of the record then delivers on its promise. Producer Inflo incorporates a host of musical influences: along with standard hip-hop sounds and recurring orchestral instrumentation, there are touches of bossa nova (“Woman”), jazz (“Two Worlds Apart”), R&B (“I See You”), gospel-like backing vocals (“How Did You Get Here”), Afrobeats (“Point and Kill”), and even disco-adjacent synth shimmers (“Protect My Energy”).
Simz’s lyrics are similarly unrestrained. Although the album title is a backronym for her own name, Simbiatu, her writing both reaches inside her own mind and expands to tell the stories of others. There are tracks about love, social justice, her absent father, female empowerment, her cousin’s biography, and reflections on her own career path, and, depending on the song, Simz’s delivery can vary from commanding to comforting to playful. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is a project that aims to capture the reality of Little Simz’s perspective and life experiences, but it’s also aspirational, presenting honest self-understanding as the first step to becoming a better person (the title track, for instance, channels an inclination for quietness and solitude into a focused willingness to fight for change). She incorporates narratives bigger than her own life alongside personal insights, often making them feel like both simultaneously, and attempts to encompass not just herself but a portion of the surrounding world within the album. It’s this ambition, combined with Introvert’s musical diversity, that results in such a surprising, engaging, and impactful listening experience.