Entertainment

Little Simz: from north London council estate to 2022 Mercury Prize winner

The British rapper and singer, real name Simbiatu Ajikawo, hails from Islington in north London.
The British rapper and singer, real name Simbiatu Ajikawo, hails from Islington in north London.

Little Simz has capped off an impressive year after scooping the 2022 Mercury Prize for her fourth album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert.

The British rapper and singer, real name Simbiatu Ajikawo, hails from Islington in north London, and grew up with her parents on a council estate.

She started her performance career at St Mary’s Youth Club in Upper Street, also previously attended by pop stars Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke.

Great Escape Festival 2017
The British rapper and singer, real name Simbiatu Ajikawo, hails from Islington in north London (Victoria Jones/PA)

Little Simz rose to prominence with the independent release of her first three albums Tale of Trials + Persons (2015), Stillness In Wonderland (2016) and Grey Area (2019).

The latter earned her her first Mercury Prize nomination, and won the awards for Best Album at both the Ivor Novello Awards and the NME Awards.

She made her Glastonbury debut on the West Holts Stage in 2016 and performed again on the same stage earlier this year.

The Brit Awards 2022 – Show – London
She was named Best New Artist at the Brit Awards and was singled out by Brit Award Queen Adele, who sent her ‘massive congratulations’ (Ian West/PA)

She was named Best New Artist at the 2022 Brit Awards and was singled out by Brit Award queen Adele, who sent her “massive congratulations”.

The musician brought her mother onstage to accept the prize before giving her own powerful acceptance speech.

In it she told audiences that she was “living proof that if you work hard at something, no matter where you come from, no matter your background, no matter your race, you can do something extraordinary”.

The Brit Awards 2022 – Show – London
Little Simz receives the award for Best New Artist with her mum during the Brit Awards 2022 (PA)

“So for all the kids: keep dreaming, keep pushing. I am you. You are me,” she said.

Accepting the Mercury Prize on Tuesday, she said she was “very overwhelmed and grateful” and admitted there had been times when she did not know whether she would finish the record.

Mercury Prize 2022 – London
Little Simz performs at the Mercury Prize 2022 awards show at the Eventim Apollo in London (Ian West/PA)

Addressing her fellow shortlisted nominees, she added: “We all made incredible albums, we all changed people’s lives with our music and that’s the most important thing.”

Little Simz is also nominated for a string of accolades at the UK Music Video Awards, which are due to take place later this year.