The date that has been heavily promoted for the past few weeks has finally come to be.
Stormzy’s album Gang Signs and Prayer was released today.
As a body of work it is solid and seamless, from interludes, content and features.
His album covers many themes, his depression, trauma, youth violence, living in the ends, doing road, drugs, sex, his friends, girlfriend Maya Jama, family and his faith.
His first official release was “Big for your boots” a raw banger that suggested the rest of his album was going to contain screw face content about bussin up a man. This definitely plays a prominent role as Big Mike reflects on his upbringing and the environment he now finds himself out of. Below is a quick review, favourite bars and themes. Thealbum is BIG go cop that.
- First things first: “you was fighting wit your girl when I was fighting my depression” Stormz also calls out LBC on the track, “LBC’s tryna’ black ball me, and tryna’ blame your boy for knife crime (like what?)”
- Cold: “Know a couple OGs that are living off crime (Cold)
But a young black boy made a milli’ off grime (Wow)
So tell Boris Johnson “suck your mum, we don’t care” (we don’t care, bruv)
And tell them riot feds “oi, buss your gun? You won’t dare (you won’t dare bruv)
- Bad Boys: “Bad boy life ain’t all that you hoped for, should’ve done book but you wanna do gun” Ghetts and J Hus make for a fire collab, a classic hard verse from Ghetts dominates this tune which is nicely tied together with J Hus’ vocals.
- Blinded by your grace pt 1
In an interview with The FADER, Stormzy said about Blinded By Your Grace Pt 1;
I wanted to make a beautiful gospel song. But there’s a psychological thing that happens when I go into the booth [to sing]: when I’m listening back, I’m judging the song based on my vocal range. I said, “I’m not a fucking singer, I’m not Frank Ocean.” So I told [producer Fraser T. Smith], I want to record this in the studio, just on the sofa, live on the mic. I was able to do it without judging myself. “Blinded” reminds me of that Kanye West song, “Only One,” which is one of my favorites. The world loves that song, and we’re not judging Kanye for not sounding like fucking Usher. You can hear the sincerity of it, and it works. I needed to do that on my album. I was hellbent on getting all my emotions out in whatever way they needed to.
- SOUNDS OF THE BLUDCLART SIR. Sir Spyro coming through as ALWAYS. The video for this is sick and bigs up some fierce, independent ladies in the grime industry who are absolutely killing it. Love that.
- Velvet is my favourite tune of the album. The Jenny Francis outro/feature is absolutely genius. I am liking Stormzy coming through with the vocals, his voice is nice and compliments the smooth sounds of Nao. It’s a feel good love song to your babes and I dig it.
- MR SKENG. Stormzy firing shots at anyone who doubts his ability to MC. Another Sir Spyro production this song is sufficiently hype as an ode to the “dickhead yout and a dickhead crew, getting gassed up by your dickhead friends”.
- Cigarettes and Cush. Kehlani’s gorgeous vocals make for a peng sweetboy tune, Lily Allen sings the hook too, it’s a chilled out vibey track.
- 21 Gun Salute. Wretch 32’s voice and the overall tone of the track reminds you of church service. “Yeah, okay, our father who are in Heaven, know that I pray that I still stay repping”
- Blinded by your grace pt 2 feat MNEK. MNEK absolutely smashes the vocals on this. I am not sure whether I prefer part 1 or part 2 but I love the Chance the Rapper/Kanye the Life of Pablo vibes. “Lord I’ve been broken, although I’m not worthy, you fixed me, now I’m blinded, by your grace, you came and saved me”.
- Return of the Rucksack. “I don’t wanna be on Lord of the Mics with shit MC’s, nah bro, I’m above that” LOOL
- 100 bags. The track starts with a message from Big Mike’s mumsy. Speaking about the importance of faith and giving her son advice. This is an emotional track that made me choke up the first time I heard it. It’s truly beautiful. I love it.
- Don’t cry for me featuring Raleigh Ritchie. The content of this song is incredible. Stormzy so articulates the issues that faced him growing up and the younger generations today too. “Tryna tell my young Gs to relax and invest in life, they invest in knives, man I was in my history class when my bredrin died, so vexed that I cried, but I come from a place where the mandem can’t let shit slide, so we rest in pride, and it kills us slow”
- Crazy Titch – Interlude. SNM. Just listen.
- Shut Up. The studio mastered version takes away the energy of the original Shut Up recording. But the XTC instrumental lives on forever and I will forever love Stormzy for spitting over it.
- Lay me bare. The title says it all. Stormzy lays his soul bare on this track. It’s incredible, raw, open and so necessary. I will be writing on Stormzy speaking about experiencing depression in more detail later on. I rate him very highly for this.
Lord help me please I’m breaking down
Tryna’ call my name and take my crown
Little bit of pain I’ll paint the town
When they put me in my grave don’t make a sound
Cos’ there’s still some days I find it hard
Smoke my spliff and write my bars
I know they see me climbing charts
But plaques won’t help me find my heart
Yo God, what’s good? I need you bad
Devil’s in my ear I need you back
Got scars in my soul I’ve been attacked
Even when I’m low I seem relaxed
But then year’s been mad I lost my way
They think I went ghost to drop my tape
Not knowing that I fell and lost my faith
Like Satan please no, not today
So fuck this shit this ain’t a joke
Just to get away I take a toke
I took this pain and made a boat
Lord knows how the fuck it’s staying afloat
Last year I cried too many times
Weren’t for Flipz and weren’t for rhymes
Weren’t for Rachel, weren’t for Kelly
Man them people saved my life
Like man’a get low sometimes, so low sometimes
Airplane mode on my phone sometimes
Sitting in my house with tears in my face
Can’t answer the door to my bro sometimes
Roaming around all alone sometimes
Don’t know sometimes
I was a young Ned Stark
But this shit’s like Game of Thrones sometimes