UK rapper Little Simz has come a long way in the past 12 months – she's travelled even further.
From recording her internationally-acclaimed debut album, A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons, at Red Bull Studios London to performing everywhere from New York to Austin, Europe and beyond (and that's all before she embarks on a massive world tour in early 2016), you'd forgive her for grabbing some downtime at home.
But when presented with the opportunity to film the music video for her new track Gratitude (which was produced by and features London-based soul/electronica four-piece The Hics) in Cape Town, South Africa, she hopped back on a plane immediately.
"[It was an opportunity to] reconnect with a place that’s close to me," says Simz. "I still have family there, but I've honestly not made the effort to reach out. It had to happen in my own time. My mum kept saying 'You need to go, you need to go'. But I had to do it for myself."
The video shoot reunited her with director Jeremy Cole, the brains behind Simz's none-more-dark Dead Body video and the helmer of Young Fathers' righteously indignant Shame. They filmed real-life student protestors and the young innovators of the Red Bull Amaphiko project.
"Jeremy directs all my stuff, and he knows how close this was to me. I didn't feel like I trusted anyone but him," she says. "While I was there there was a lot of protests going on – the government was raising student fees 10 percent. That was interesting because that’s kind of what's happening here [in the UK]. It was interesting to compare. I feel like the mentality of the students is the thing. Education is a right, not a privilege."
Watch the exclusive world video premiere of Gratitude by Little Simz in the player below. The video contains language some may find offensive.
Despite the potential heaviness of the subject matter, Simz is quick to add that she’s not taking us down another dark corridor.
"Tone wise, it's a lot lighter than Dead Body. [There are] a lot of beautiful colours, Cape Town looks very European. It has such a warm feel. Dead Body is a bit cold, this is the complete opposite."
The experience of filming in Cape Town and meeting the people fighting for change has clearly had a profound effect on the 21-year-old rapper.
"It's mad because I feel like I've grown up a lot in a weekend, because of what I've seen," she says. "I want my friends to go, I want them to be awakened. It's not enough for me to come back and share my story. I'm so happy I went at this particular moment in my life. I needed to see what I saw, and I needed to meet the people I met."
Debut album A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons is out to buy now.
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