24 Feb Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer
One of my favorite memories of hip hop so far in my young life has to be when Stormzy’s ‘Shut Up’ came on when I was in a club in Bath, England last year. My sis brought me through to a place called Second Bridge and it was my first time in a European club. So, I was excited to be there to say the least. Right when the beat dropped the whole place went nuts, everyone chiming in to yell the now-iconic chorus. Fast-forward to today, and London’s Stormzy has nearly taken over the entire U.K. hip hop scene. This album marks his long-awaited debut, and the dude has a lot to prove to listeners around the world. Can he hold up? That is the question.
Yes. He can. After checking out this project in full, in my eyes Stormzy pulled off a memorable debut. Not only were a lotta beats true to that aggressive grime sound, but many were also more on the mellow side. I enjoyed that immensely. Stormzy did a stellar job mixing aggressive collabs with reflective recollections of life too, consistently dropping dazzling wordplay in his performances. The strongest part about the whole LP though may be Stormzy’s voice. So much power in his vocal chords, he was made to rap over U.K. beats. I will say there was more singing than I anticipated, but even his singing voice is decent.
In conclusion, Gang Signs & Prayer proved two things to me. First, Stormzy can make an album filled with simply mean solo tracks. That’s HUGE. Second (and also rather important) he can take musical risks that although may not be as strong as his original style, still do showcase growth and new direction as an artist. Balancing a classic style that you can rock in any venue with an ever-changing desire to progress yourself is how MCs stay in top form and become legends. If I’m being honest, Stormzy is well on his way to that label if this momentum continues. My favorite U.K. album since Konnichiwa. Well done, mate.
Purchase Gang Signs & Prayer here. Shouts to that album cover too.
Favorite Tracks: Lay Me Bare, First Things First, Shut Up, 100 Bags, Big For Your Boots, Velvet/Jenny Francis, 21 Gun Salute, Return of the Rucksack, Mr. Skeng
Rating: B (79/100)
image via Stormzy & #Merky Records
– Benny P