For more than a decade now, Simi has taken us on a whirlwind journey through her music, as she’s relayed stories about the sometimes turbulent but always enthralling nature of love, in all its forms. And she’s successfully travelled through the sonic airwaves, finding her glory in the exhilarating world of Afro-pop.
In 2014, she released Restless, her five-track debut EP of semi-covers which launched her further into the spotlight and set the stage for her subsequent five-year deal with record label, X3M Music. Now, through her independent label, Studio Brat and backed by leading A&R company, Platoon, comes the successor to her first EP – Restless II.
“This project that I put together, anxious because of how different it is, excited because of how different it is, curious because of how different it is, but also grateful because of how different I could be – is almost upon us” shared the artist on Instagram last month, in anticipation of the EP.
The word “different” encapsulates the nature of this EP as Simi largely deviates from the Afro-pop sound she’s typically recognised for, singing about love gained and lost over a range of more celestial, Alternative R&B instrumentals. However, one thing that gladly remains unchanged from Simi’s discography is her ability and willingness to weave seamless and relatable stories of love, regardless of what stage in that journey she’s at.
Throughout Restless II, Simi takes us on an emotional rollercoaster, opening with musings on a casual relationship that she’s not interested in taking to the next level on the lead single, No Longer Beneficial. The instrumentals start off lightly before transitioning into a heavier beat as Simi tries to make it crystal clear to her muse that she’s not “trying to settle down” and is only “looking for a good time”.
Her tone then takes an opposite direction and quickly advances to a romantic invitation as she switches her standing from not wanting to enter into a relationship to now wanting more and falling completely head over heels for her partner on the next two tracks, There For You and City Lights. This however doesn’t last for too long as the love turns sour and Simi finds herself regretting the relationship due to her partner’s indiscretions, with the instrumentals getting more brassy and Trap-inclined, all leading to the end of the relationship on the Adekunle Gold – assisted closer, Bites The Dust.
On a sonically stunning collaboration, Gold takes the lead on the plush, Sess produced beat as the duo go back and forth, sharing their feelings with one another with Simi reiterating that she’s done with the relationship as she sings ”find somebody else to deceive now”. The song’s mellow instrumentals, although belying the discord between the two parties, lets us know that they’re no longer fighting to hold on to the relationship, its conclusion signified by AG’s humorous closing line, “AG baby is not your baby.”
As we go through the EP, we come to understand the essence of Simi’s recurring question, “Can you see me now?” She wants to know where she stands at every stage in the relationship, she wants to feel seen, with the innermost parts of herself becoming understood – something we can probably all relate to. And this level of relatability that Simi demonstrates in all her music is a pivotal reason why she will always have a welcoming home in the hearts of sentimental music lovers. The superb production on the EP almost takes centre stage at certain moments but Simi takes the glory as she’s skillful in her storytelling and convincing in her lyrics.
Restless II confirms Simi’s diverse nature as an artist while equally reminding us that a conversation about the most awe-inspiring artists in the Nigerian music sphere is never really complete without a mention of her name. For us listeners, it’s impossible to not notice her and the art she’s shared with the world. We can see her, in all her varying and enchanting forms, now more than ever.