UK-based rapper, Little Simz, chronicles the struggles both herself and her community face in the video for her 2015 single, “Gratitude.”
Little Simz, originally from Nigeria, connects with her African heritage throughout the video. She utilizes clips of student protests that took place in Cape Town in 2015 to further emphasize the abstract idea of struggle. In one of the clips, a protester is saying that “education is not a privilege, it is a right.” In 2015, students at South African universities protested against the increase in tuition fees and demanded that they be cut by at least 11%. In “Gratitude”, Little Simz says:
“Put my feet in the studio and call it my home
While others have got no way out/”
Students in Africa struggled with marginalization and enrolling into universities. School is an outlet for many people to escape their struggle, and in my opinion, Little Simz uses the studio as a parallel to explain how music helped her escape her struggle. In another one of her lyrics, she acknowledges a perspective of a person who cannot pursue their dreams, she says:
I ain’t never had a chance to do what I love/
Ain’t nobody ever been encouraging me/
I just stay indoors, wishing and dreaming/
Maybe in another life, it will happen for me/
I put all my energy into feeding my kids/
Do they appreciate the sacrifice I made for ’em?/
No, their daddy ain’t around and I have to make up excuses/
As to why he hasn’t yet came for ’em, oh lord/
This verse can be taken in a way in which a person is affected by their lack of resources to pursue their dreams; because of this lack of resources, the person ends up deferring their dreams for other things. Overall, Little Simz uses both the visual of the student protests and the lyrical perspective of a person whose dreams were deferred as a way to reflect on the milestones she has reached in life and continues to remain grateful that she beat the odds against her. In parallel, also stands in solidarity with student protests and the need for education opportunities for the youth in Africa. This was a well-crafted song, and I know for sure that the rest of her work is equally as amazing and well executed.
Check out her music here.