In 2019, Stormzy was British royalty. After becoming the first Black British solo artist to headline Glastonbury in a critically-lauded firestorm performance of politics, celebration, and beauty, the rapper born Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr. confronted his kingly status with great nuance on Heavy is the Head--an impressive collection of modern day psalms that bring to mind the faith and fury of the biblical King David set in grimy London.
One of the most ambitious British rap records ever made proclaims the star’s increased creative freedom from the rooftops, but while the highs are higher than on previous records, the lows are lower too Ever since Stormzy's first album, his audience has become used to him balancing out hard-hitting rap tracks with slower, R&B-based cuts that may feature sung performances ("man thought that Stormzy couldn't sing"). It has also been a common assumption that such a balance is part of being a British rapper on a major label - the A&Rs trying to broaden his appeal in a country where 2015's Shut Up only got in the Top 10 as a Christmas-time joke. But upon the release of Firebabe, it became apparent that whatever level of creative freedom he is granted, Stormzy genuinely wants to sing love songs.
After nearly a decade in the game, London-born grime heavyweight Stormzy has returned with third studio album 'This Is What I Mean'. He has described the record himself as an 'intimate love letter to music' – and that is clear throughout the project. 'This Is What I Mean' departs from the sounds Stormzy has been previously known for and instead taps into the gospel elements he has dabbled with in the past, most notably on 2017's 'Blinded By Your Grace Pt.