Stormzy – Heavy Is The Head Album review

Album review: HITH (Stormzy) 

 

Stormzy’s latest album title let’s us know that with the crown comes angst, backlash and burden, but is the king truly back ? 

 

It’s been 2 years since Michael Omari Owuo Junior – better known as known as Stormzy graced us with his last project – the debut album “Gang Signs and Prayers’. This Inugural album served the music industry mainstream as a strong reminder – grime is to be taken seriously.

Since then, as if not already a star – his fame has sky rocketed and has gone on to become a house hold name ticking off bucketlist accomplishments such as Headlining Glastonbury, Winning 2 Brit awards, 3 Mobo’s and a BBC Music Award for Music Artist of the Year, (the year of the debut album release) – all arguably crowning him the king of grime in the process, so it can be seen as to why the anticipated follow up project heavy is the Head, since the first project release “Vosi Bop” has left fans waiting anxiously for another poster child smash. 

The album starts off with a Direct Message recording via Stormzy’s Instagram from a fan who asks “why aren’t you releasing music …” –well ladies and gentlemen, this is his return : notably backed by blazing sharp horns – signifying a royal return, which leads into the second track “Audacity” rightly boasting that he can now fill venues easily with 5000 capacity – featuring ever rising rap / drill artist Headie One who’s delivery is nothing but frank and boastful as usual.

We do however get beneath more layers of Stormzy with the emotive “crown” where he explains the struggle of maintaining his position of being a successful artists in the modern day, the mental struggles, being grateful for his position and addressing backlash for his charity initiative of funding scholarships for young afro / Caribbean students to study at Cambridge university – being confusingly labelled as racist by some for offering aid specifically to black students and not others forgetting Stormzy is lending a helping hand to bridge the gap as statistics show overall in 2017

3,497 students were accepted at Cambridge which was up 1.2% from previous years, whereas only 61 black students were accepted in 2019 being the most ever.

 

The album goes on to remind the listener of where Stormzy comes from – referencing his environment of dangers and street life to which he has overcome, being a family man highlighted on “Rachel’s little brother” (dedicated to his older sister). 

However as beautiful as the sounds of melodic overtones and synths continue to ooze through the speakers, it becomes very apparent that something is noticeably missing as you reach the half way point of the album : the lack of Grime. 

With the exception of “Handsome” which J Hus teases us on the intro introducing himself as a stamp of approval; Stormzy reminds us off his MC abilities riding the beat with ease switching his flow at least 3 times and not missing a step – we question can you hold the crow as the king of grime by producing an album with hardly an grime songs ? 

 

The album continues with reflective ensemble “ One Second “ featuring American R&B. Star H.E.R. Stormzy highlights here a stand out moment for himself and music pop culture where in 2018 he performed at the Brits questioning the then Prime ministers leadership Over the tragic Grenfel Tower fire incident.

We are abruptly led to pop song “pop boy” featuring Manchester MC aitch who rarely disappoints with his bar performances and continue to the most likely hit from the album which currently receives heavy radio play “Own It” featuring music heavyweights Ed Sheeran, and Burna Boy – probably needed to boost presence on the charts, but also a reminder of Stormzy’s diverse ability to crossover and still hold his own and not be overshadowed by other commanding presences. 

Again we are still left wondering what genre (of the “urban” market) this fits into with hardly any presence of what we came here for, although we catch a glimpse with “Wiley Flow”. The title pays homage to the Grime Godfather as the south London MC emulates Wileys flow in actuality on the track from 1:10 – 1:21.

 

An honourable mention for the album should go to “Superheroes” where Stormzy encourages listeners to be the best they can be and not be afraid, giving reference to his own superheroes he looks up to such as Serena Williams, and Malorie Blackman. An upbeat song of positivity and zeal to take away. 

 

Of course, worth acknowledgement is the highly talked about song “Lessons” which is a dedication to the artists ex girlfriend Maya Jama where he wears his heart on his sleeve for the world to see that he apologises for the ending of their relationship in the last few months. 

Amid much speculation as to what could have split the power couple that everyone was rooting for, and despite rumours of infidelity nothing has been confirmed although innuendo throughout the song suggest it was at the fault of Stormzy which he openly accepts, apologised for and wishes her well in the future. 

Although very open and emotive as a body of work once you unravel the surface (rightful) claims of success throughout the album, we find a much respected effort, and acclaim worthy product which explains why ‘Big Mike’ feels his crown is heavy. However – 

 

there is a much noted lack of grime which is what we as the listener and original fans of Stormzy have championed him for. Leading us to conclude – with all being said and done, IS the latest king of grime really back ? The jury Is still out … 

 

STAND OUT TRACKS :

 

Crown 

Handsome 

One second 

Wiley flow 

Superheroes

 

By J Parkinson – Actil

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3 Responses to “Stormzy – Heavy Is The Head Album review

  • Dope review. Couldn’t have worded it better myself. H.I.T.H in my opinion is an album which Stormzy clearly had the intentions of keeping mainstream while still keeping it real.

  • A very fair and insightful review, especially for someone who is yet to listen to the album. (Y)

  • Tanya willis
    7 months ago

    For someone, who doesn’t really listen to stormzy, (myself) you have given me a lot of background insightful information, in terms of things he has done for the community and how he is now ((supposedly)) the king of grime, the review was non bias, and the material used was very delightful, well done, on your execution and i hope to see more of these type of things from upgrade ent. Lets get it💪🏽

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