The lead up campaign to South London’s very own exciting and talented giant Stormzy’s debut album Gang Signs And Prayer was curated and executed phenomenally. Despite a bit of controversy, he took full control and spun it to his advantage and this ended up being a huge milestone in his career. Having just been released Midnight the 24th February, despite only being a talking point at the time, the anticipation and yearning for his live performances and enthusiastic stage antics Stormzy’s fans went in their thousands, purchasing the entirety of his ticket sales. His UK tour dates were completely sold out titled #MerkyAcadamyTing. They were released on the 9th of February and sold out by the 10th! Astonishing, as it showcases his influence and notoriety as an artist. Since inception, fans have been drawn to the one they often call Big Mike, this tall figure of a black man who spews reality and intellect whilst still captivating his younger audience through his banging music. Lyrically considered as one of the best amongst a pull of talented MC’s dotted across the UK, and even Crazy Titch dubbed him as Neo.
The unity and push, not forgetting excitement from his fellow peers within music was endearing to bear witness! It was encouraging to see and is testament to his character as a man, which is often heard during interviews from fellow artists. Such actions in a genre that is often overlooked by heads and those in control, is wonderful to see.
It is very much clear to see that Stormzy is an artist that is loved by his peers and more so by his fans!
Stormzy released Big For Your Boots, gearing up for his album release. To date the YouTube views have already grossed over 7 million views! The video featured his extremely stunning and funny girlfriend, presenter and radio host Maya Jama
The Brit Awards, in which he was nominated for the Breakthrough artist category, the young talent graced the stage alongside another UK powerhouse music sensation Ed Sheeran. One of the few highlights from the night. The joining together of two genres captivated the audience and social media alike. The performance went seemingly, even ending with a huge. A hug that was felt through the television screens. Powerful and get to bare witness to shape of you remix which is also out now.
Gang Signs & Prayer is his debut official Album, although he has released an EP and Mixtape this is his first commercial body of work. The 16-track album features respected talented rappers, MC’s and singers, also including a rising US singing star. They artists featured areCrazy Titch, Jenny Francis, Ghetts, J Hus,Kehlani, Wretch 32, MNEK and Raleigh Ritchie. and exec produced by Fraser T Smith
Such a momentous occasion all his fans as we were listening to the album as soon as midnight hit! till as late as 6am to fully absorb the album so we could an give an in depth track by track insightful review of the album to show you exactly why this album deserves to be the number 1 Record.
First Things First
Powerful first track entry into the Album, Stormzy is very honest, aggressive and holds nothing back. A young man with a vengeance ready to tackle anything standing in his way. He calls out the haters, those that pretend to be his friends but nonetheless use him for their own personal gain. At the same time, he talks about tackling his own demands by mentioning fighting his own depression.
‘I was going to church but doing streets at the same time’.
He speaks about living a very contradicting lifestyle, hence why he had to start praying to get his mind right.
‘Fuck DSTRKT night club, Fuck people that don’t like us but benefit from us! The beat is Hard! Harsh! Aggressive! It goes seemingly with the message and tone of his voice!
Classic grime instrumental and beat. Very nostalgic and reminiscent of that old-school gime vibe. The beat is energetic and hype. His flow is fast and sick! Stormzy’s wordplay game is strong! His tone and stance is very confident, cocky as he speaks about his lyrical abilities as a rapper and now he is handling business
#Merky the label I’m coming like Darcus
At the same time, honouring young black Kings and Queens! Saying ‘It’s our time’.
Cold refers to his style and his abilities as an MC! Expect lyrics like ‘I’ve been cold the whole season, I should call my next one Icey’. ‘I do the roads and do wifey no wonder why they don’t like me’.
Bad Boys (Feat. Ghetts and J Hus)
The song starts off with some aggression talk from the one and only Ghetts at 18 during his clash with bash and one of the most legendary moments in Grime to date! You hear some church type organ instrumental playing in the background leading to Stormzy opening the song. Once again, hold nothing back. He pretty much dismisses and strips down all the fakes and pretenders. All those that pretend to be so called ‘Bad Boys’ but have nothing to show for it and behind closed doors are living the complete opposite lifestyle.
Expect harsh realities letting you know the type of watered down bad boys in all different scenario ‘Them man are selective bad boys, Netflix Bad Boys, Can you get me on the guest list Bad Boys’ Damn! At the same time dropping some knowledge on these ‘Bad Boys’ he says
‘I take care of my fam so I am a gangster!
As soon as Ghetts steps forward on the mic, its over! His energy, aggression and tone gave me Goosebumps! Lyrically one of the best, he speaks his thoughts and holds nothing to the imagination. His ability to change the tone of voice, with great accuracy reflecting the subject of choice is genius! The bridge of the song is all J Hus. He brings calmness in between the two storms. With J Hus putting that class on yet another hook shows you exactly what this year he is also due for great things!
Blinded By Your Grace, Pt.1
Piano playing equating to calmness. The soothing sounds and tones of live instrumentals. A very peaceful song where you get to be preview to Stormzy’s vulnerability, his faith and admiration for the Lord in his life. Stomzy singing, yes!
‘I’m blinded by your grace through the darkness you came, I’ll be alright with you by my side’.
This song is endearing and should be encouraged! A young black man who is appreciative of his faith and the role God plays in his life.
Big For Your Boots
The first song he dropped as he returned from his hiatus. Wordplay, aggression, confident, and lyrically wordy. This song received rave reviews and featured a few appearances which has been mentioned above. The song is bouncy, the beat is crazy! A definite Skank! Stormzy came back with even more aggression and confident, ready to take on the industry!
Velvet/ Jenny Francis – Interlude
The beat is very much a R&B sound, it is slow, classy and romantic. Stormzy is more relaxed and somewhat hypnotic as he speaks in a softer tone. This song softens the tone of the album and gives it a female touch with the legend that is Jenny Francis speaking at the end like this is exactly she would play if she was on the radio right now and to hear her say #MERKYFM and following it with another Stormzy track shows you his longevity in what he does and how he knows his music is that credible that it can be played back to back to back.
Speaking of himself in the third person, speaking his stats, commercial success and being a bible carrier ‘I’m with the Lord! Stormzy has no qualms in living his truth which is refreshing!
‘Mom if you’re listening close your ears’
There’s honesty, cursing, calling people out and not holding anything back. Instrumentals and beat is sick!
Cigarettes & Cush (Feat Kehlani)
Stormzy singing alongside Kehlani beautifully! His low tones are not bad at all. Kehlani’s vocals are amazing, the talented singer brings that soft element of R&B to this song. Stormzy remains himself by speaking love and relationships in his own way. The chorus which is sung by both parties is catchy and a great sing along with a legendary Lily Allen alongside.
21 Gun Salute (Feat. Wretch 32)
A short, straight to the point but very much needed style of song.
This song is almost a prayer, as Wretch 32 opens the song with a prayer, still being Wretch he drops knowledge and speaks his truth. Stormzy complementing Wretch by introducing his own prayer, he speaks about his love ones and prays for those who pray for his downfall referring to them as pagans.
Very unexpected, yet extremely refreshing!
Blinded By Your Grace, Pt.2 Feat MNEK
Part two of Blinded By Your Grace conjured emotions I didn’t know I had! Stormzy is vulnerable and completely stripped bare. His appreciation for the Lord in his life is very beautiful to see. This song resembles prayers and worship (the start of a church ceremony where the whole congregation stands up and sings their praise to the Lord by thanking him).
MNEK sings beautifully with grace and elegance, brought chills down my spine! This song will bring tears to your eyes and conjure deep feelings that need healing.
This song is truly healing and soul lifting and for that I commend Stormzy!
Return Of The Rucksack
Grime beat, energetic, head bouncing beat. Lyrical, wordplay, aggression and a lot of clever references throughout the song. Drawing the lyric from his verse on Bonkaz’s And Dat Remix and turning it to the theme of this track
‘I roll deep on these, put these MC’s on deep freeze’ strong and straight forward chorus!
His mother starts off the song by blessing her son, leading into a prayer she tells him to trust and put his faith in the Lord and he will bless him. Her voice is very emotional and endearing!
Speaking of the struggles that he put his mother through whilst growing up, Stormzy reflects on his past choice that had her extremely worried. This song is admiration and appreciation for her support throughout his demises. This song shows growth and depth within their relationship and his lifestyle choices as the man he is today. He refers to his mother as a Ghanaian Queen as she is! A Beautiful song!
Don’t Cry For Me Feat. Raleigh Ritchie
Instrumental is emotively driven, Stormzy speaks about his hood, the lifestyle, the street life, and young black men dying in vain.
Stormzy reflects on his life, looking back and appreciating how far he’s come, but at the same time feeling nostalgic and sad about those who didn’t make it out. Questioning but being thankful for his escape. A lyric that stood out that people should soak in is ‘Man are out here beefing, like we’re not broken enough’. Raleighs voice fits perfectly within the song, its beautiful and emotional.
Crazy Titch – Interlude
Stormzy calls Crazy Titch from prison as they converse through a phone call whilst Stormzy is sat in the booth.
Crazy Titch speaks about Stormzys position as a rapper, he drops some serious knowledge and gives his opinion and insight to his thoughts on the grime industry. This is legendary and Epic!
If you put all bias aside Stormzy HAS to be Neo, that makes me Morpheus!
When he said Mr. Smith is almost obsolete it probably hit home from so many and for so many that haven’t heard from Titch and the first time we have heard him he is giving a statement like that! Its powerful
If you’re listening to this album you know his lyrical ability and Shut Up is exactly that, enough said! Went to the park and charted with this one, remember?!
Lay Me Bare
The final song and exit of the album. The instrumental and beat is euphoric and calm. There is use of sound effects, the beat is deep and so is Stormzy. He speaks about an encounter with his father, and thanks his mom for holding the family down.
His exit message is strong, transparent and very melodic. ‘Satan, please not today!’ He continues strongly as he started by holding on to his faith! A sweet lyric and the importance of having the correct people around you
‘I got me a girl that prays for me’
Salute to his Lady as it was one of the biggest inspirations and motivations in his life.
Hands down one of the most decorated and fulfilling albums I’ve heard to date! His Life, His Truth is laid bare for all ears.
His demons, life challenges and conflicting emotions are all present in this album, an open book to both his fans and critics alike.
Deep and powerful messages to attain from a debut body of work. A young man who has found solace in his faith and relationship with God.
Very refreshing, encouraging and humbling!
You are preview to the man behind Stormzy, transparency and an insight into Michael the young black man.
Gang Signs & Prays will take you through a rollercoaster of emotions, but will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated!
Through hardship there is strength in believing and having faith! A Great Body Of WORK!!
Stream it if full here, but support this moment in music because he has put in a bigger plan and he wants to show the world he is credible enough and this album shows that and that is a fact!