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Boundaries are important. Eliminate fear. Honor your truth and feelings. Emotion is energy in motion. These affirmations are the driving story No, thank you, Little Simz’s fifth studio album. In a newly released 10-minute short film directed by Gabriel Moses, the British rapper uses five songs from the album to reinforce the same powerful statements.

Throughout the film, Simms takes the lead role, surrounded by other black performers, and not only rejects the praise given by external validation, but rejects the harmful myth of strong black women that often erases empathy for the human struggle by discrediting emotion. which do not match their intended preconceived narrative.

“Everybody’s so obsessed with the CEO / He’s probably got the most problems he’ll never reveal / Dealing with the dark with the white on his nose,” he sings on “Broken.” “Poker face in action, keeping the show going/The truth about the system was explored for free/All he wanted to do was lift women up.” As the song plays, the camera jumps between angry women, one holding a gun, another physically trying to release the anger from her body, and another mourning. The Sims themselves punch their fists into a pool of water.

In “X,” the black choir builds a barricade around Sims as he sings about the division of communities. The gospel musings of Cleo Sol’s backing vocals close out a section of the film driven by images of soldiers, including one riding through the trees on horseback while their bodies are engulfed in flames.


Sims only gets partway through the opening section of “Sideways,” but extends his fervor to “Silhouette” and “Heart on Fire,” where he pushes back against using outside perceptions to define his own sense of self. He raps on the latter. “It was never about looking for results/Now every time you do something, you gotta be applauded (My heart’s on the f–)/Please keep your head up when you go through the maze.” /’Cause the glory of sailing is something you’re never trained for.”

As the chorus of voices returns in Heart of Fire’s most powerful scene, the camera follows Sims, dressed in a white dress, in front of a mirror. There he sits stone-faced and is applauded by dozens of white people. “Am I anxious or excited?” he just asked in the previous verse. “Am I calm or worried?”


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