So Stormzy has done it. His highly anticipated debut offering Gang signs & prayer or more affectionately known via the web as #GSAP has become the U.K’s number 1 album & I couldn’t be more happy about it!
It’s no secret that although my musical taste is eclectic, there’s something about hip-hop & grime that will forever scratch an itch that pop, R&B, dance, or Tchaikovsky can’t.
What makes the success of #GSAP all the more sweet is that 23 year old Stormzy is able to fuse Gospel, R&B, with a splash of pop (in the form of vocals by Lily Allen), & grime into the kind of audio alchemy that is a more than worthy chart topper.
BODY OF WORK
I downloaded #GSAP 30mins after release, on Friday feb 24th & actually felt a sense of nostalgia…It felt like a moment reminicent of when ‘The miseducation of Lauryn Hill‘ dropped, or when ‘The college drop out‘ by Kanye landed or when Kendrick gave us ‘ Good Kid M.A.A.D City‘. All records that marked the arrival of an artist that would effect the way we feel about the genre. About music, period.
What strikes me most about this 16 track body of work is the confidence in which Stormzy is able to deliver heart felt, cocky, aggressive, vulnerable, & pay homage to those that came before whilst doing something never done before. Stormzy released his debut on his own label #Merky records, distributed through ADA (Warner) which makes it the first UK grime album to hit #1 on the chart, & the first to do so independently.
I rate Stormzy & his team, the marketing & roll out for this record has been exceptional. His performance with Ed shereen at the brit awards on the week before release was genius & releasing the remix to ‘shape of you’ Ft Stormzy straight after, sending it straight to #1 on the singles chart…..BACK OF THE NET.
They literally built it from the ground up.
It’s a testament to a record when it’s hard to pick your stand-out cut…
Honestly It’s been a while since I felt like crying, praying, moshing, & been ready to lift weights all over one record. ‘Blinded by your grace’ (Pt 1 + 2), ‘100 bags’ & ‘Lay me bare’ almost left me a wreck. From the vulnerable moments of redemption in BBYG, to the straight emotional, as Stormzys mother prays for him via Voicemail. 🤤 🤤🤤🤤Im sure everyone will be wiping their eyes & noses cos I definitely was!
‘Mr Skeng’ & ‘Return of the racksack’ had me gassed beyond measure, & hearing Jenny Francis from choice FM (96.9 fm the now defunct but first UK black radio station) on an interlude before ‘Velvet’ & ‘Cigarettes & Cush’ ft Kehlani had me missing the old days & thinking about calling a dude asap. We were also transported in time to the clash between Ghetts (Formerly MC Ghetto) & Bashy (actor Ashley Thomas) & given a goosebump inducing moment on a Crazy Titch interlude. These nods to early grime & british music culture for me, puts #GSAP in a league of its own category. Only time will tell if it’s a classic. It definietly seems to have captured the zeitgeist, with everyones mum, brother & dog talking & tweeting, about it, but it’s definitly on my repeat playlist list & will be for a while.
There have been a few album moments in UK Grime & rap, but I imagine this is the closest to what it felt like when Dizzee dropped ‘Boy in da corner’. I had just moved to Germany to sign my record deal at the time so I missed the moment. Either way, Gang signs & Prayers is an amazing body of work. Im super happy for Stormzy & extremely proud of my mate Fraser T Smith who co- executive produced this record. Fraser has such a knack for being able to make dope urban music & is equally dope at crafting grammy winning records for your Adele’s, or the sam smiths of the world.
Stormzy has managed to stay above the fray beautifully. Whether it be the police wrongly kicking off his door after wrongly suspecting him of burglarising his own property or LBC radio attributing knife crime to him/grime
“I was scrolling through my tweets/ had Adele up on repeat/And saw a madness on my timeline,
LBC’s tryna’ black ball me/And tryna’ blame your boy for knife crime.”- Stormzy (First things first. #GSAP)
He really carries himself with respect & dignity. I wish this brother well & long may his reign over the charts continue. It’s truly inspiring watching this young man from the ends work & get the gold. Stormzy proves he truly is #Merky & a #Problem!!
Gang signs & Prayer out now!!
A x 💋