Stormzy, otherwise known as Michael Omari, is a 23-year-old hip-hop and grime artist from London. He released his debut album “Gang Signs & Prayer” last Friday, but he was first introduced to the music industry back in July 2014 when he released his first extended play titled “Dreamer’s Disease.” This EP consists of seven songs and it made a few waves back in the United Kingdom, getting Stormzy a few nominations from British award shows as well as appearances on a few of their late-night programs.
Soon after he began to release his freestyles, which had been getting him attention before the official release of his EP, he made his way onto a few charts with these songs in 2015, and then released the song “Scary” in early 2016. This song was one of his most successful with 12 million views on YouTube. After this, he somewhat fell off the face of the Earth. He went into radio silence on social media and did not reappear until February of this year.
When he came back though, he came back in full force. Announcing the release of “Gang Signs & Prayer,” otherwise known on social media sites as “GSAP,” on Feb. 24 after performing with Ed Sheeran two days prior at the BRIT Awards on Feb. 22. Sheeran surprised the crowd at the award show by bringing out Stormzy for a remix while performing his massive hit “Shape of You.” Since then it has been a notably crazy week for the British grime artist.
Since the release of “Gang Signs & Prayer,” he has been receiving praise and support from his fellow artists. From Sheeran to Niall Horan of One Direction to Ellie Goulding, artists have been continuously posting on their social media sites supporting him and his debut album. The biggest name to do so yet was Adele, who even Stormzy was star struck by, posting about this experience on his own accounts.
This 16-track album deserves all of the recognition from these big-name artists and especially from his fans. It is different, moving and everything good hip-hop is supposed to be. It holds an array of song choices, from a couple songs that are slow and soft, to the few strategically placed interludes with rather important speeches present throughout them, to the hyped-up hip-hop and grime that got Stormzy where he is now. Each track is telling his story, making the album what it is.
It is hard to choose the most notable songs on this album because they are all notable. However, some stand out more than others. His song “Big For Your Boots” has to be one of them because it has already been well received. The song, along with a music video, were released prior to the album’s release as an introduction. It gets the audience moving and there is so much power behind it. However, it may not be what everyone is looking for.
The song on this album that appears to be getting a lot of notice on social media features California-grown singer Kehlani, who is known for her song “Gansta” in “Suicide Squad” as well as her collaborations with other artists such as G-Eazy. Their collaborative track on Stormzy’s album is called “Cigarettes & Cush.” Her smooth vocals and his softer vocals on this song make it a song you can listen to on any occasion, unlike many of his others, which have so much power behind them that you need to be in a particular mindset to enjoy it. However, this song can be a party song or just a song you can listen to while writing a paper. You can tell right away it will be a fan favorite, and it may be the song that makes Stormzy’s career blowup.
Another standout song on the album is “Blinded by Your Grace, Pt. 2” featuring MNEK, there is also a Part 1 on the album but it is not as noteworthy, lacking what Part 2 has. A few other songs that stand out are “Velvet” with the “Jenny Francis – Interlude” and “Lay Me Bare.” You feel what kind of artist Stormzy is with these tracks.
Should you listen to it?: Yes.
The only answer is yes. It is what encompasses grime and hip-hop and there is no bad song on the album. Ask yourself: If the goddess that is Adele supports Stormzy, how can you not?