Stormzy's Gang Signs & Prayer: What You Need To Know
It has been a long time coming for Stormzy: having won Best Grime Act at the MOBOs in 2014 and 2015 and placing third on the BBC's Sound Of... list in 2015 – all without having released an album – Stormzy has looked set for big things for at least he last three years now, but this week his debut LP will finally land on the shelves in stores up and down the UK.
It's called Gang Signs and Prayer, here's everything you need to know about it...
A little background...
Stormzy has been making a name for himself on the underground grim scene for several years before releasing his first EP, Dreamers Disease, in 2014, shortly thereafter became the first ever unsigned rapper to appear on Later with Jools Holland. The MOBO award and a second EP followed, along with a performance of his track 'Shut Up' at Anthony Joshua's heavyweight bout with south London rival Dillian Whyte. The resulting surge in popularity saw the track climb into the Top 10 on the UK Singles Chart in December 2015.
Early in 2016 however he announced a hiatus from both music and social media shortly after the release of single 'Scary', locking himself away to work on his debut album. It was all quiet on the Stormzy front for several months, but then early this month an announcement was made and a billboard campaign launched around London, unveiling the release date and title for his debut LP.
Who's producing it?
The majority of the album has been executive produced by Stormzy himself and Fraser T Smith, whose credits include working on tracks for Sam Smith, Plan B and Craig David, to name a handful, as well as contributing seven tracks to Kano's Mercury Prize-shortlisted album Made in the Manor. There are also credits on the album for Sir Spyro, Swifta Beata and XTC (that's the grime producer, not the post-punk band led by Andy Partridge, in case you were wondering...)
Any special guests?
A few, yes. Ghetts and JHUS both appear on 'Bad Boys', Kehlani puts in a shift on 'Cigarettes and Cush' and MNEK makes an appearance on 'Blinded By Your Grace, Part 2', while elsewhere there are also guest slots for Raleigh Ritchie and Wretch 32.
What does it sound like?
Pretty much everything you'd expect and more. Frenetic raps, towering beats and some well-chosen guests, particularly Kehlani's turn on 'Cigarettes and Cush'. Of the singles released so far, 'Big For your Boots' and 'Shut Up' offer an indication of what to expect and there's plenty more where they came from.
Does it deliver?
It may have taken a while, but the wait was definitely worth it and if you've been following Stormzy's career so far, this won't disappoint. You can find the video for 'Big For Your Boots' below...