There’s a monologue moment about three-quarters through this album, where the grime MC known as Crazy Titch (who was incarcerated for murder in 2005) can be heard over the phone giving his opinion on Stormzy’s rise to the top, where he notes that “if you cannot fathom that this guy’s about to take it from a second rate genre to a first rate genre then you need to look at yourself and be ashamed.” Besides showing the respect Stormzy has earned from the elder generation of grime acts, it also acted as a premonition: If you are unable to see that this album is the start of a wave of high profile grime and hip-hop acts both in the U.K. and Ireland then you should be somewhat questioning the way you consider music’s impact on society.
Throughout this album’s hour-long running time there are moments of heartbreak, depression, loneliness, aggressiveness and anger. The most prominent theme of the album, however, is faith. The faith Stormzy and his family have in God, the faith Stormzy’s mother has for him, the faith Stormzy has for his girlfriend and the faith that Stormzy holds for the people he grew up with. The highlight of the album is “Blinded By Your Grace Pt. 2” and it is, coming into this album, the last thing anyone could have predicted Stormzy would do. From the gospel choir, the the Kirk Franklin- esque organs to the uplifting sense of triumph you get listening to the track, it feels like Stormzy’s moment, his time to take a moment and soak it all in before continuing to take over. On the whole project, there is only 9 out of the 16 songs that could be considered grime or rap, the highlights of which are the hard-hitting opener “First Thing First” and the two album singles “Big For Your Boots” and “Shut Up.” The remaining 7 tracks are slow recollections of his relationships with his mother & girlfriend, his faith and his battle with depression. Songs such as “21 Gun Salute,” “100 Bags” and “Blinded By Your Grace” take the emotions of vulnerability that grime as a genre often tries to bury and puts them straight under the spotlight. Everything about this release is well thought out, considered and approached with care. The album is perfectly laid out, with both slow and fast numbers spaced evenly, and songs flowing seamlessly from one to another. This album does not feel like it’s an hour long, which is a testament to Stormzy’s ability to keep you entertained, even on repeated listens.
This album is a statement of intent, a statement of change and the passing of the torch for the king of Grime. This album is the beginning – in 10 years time this album will be one of the biggest inspirations for all hip-hop acts both in the U.K. and the U.S. It’s recently become the first grime album to go to number one in the U.K. album charts, and it was also number one in Ireland. This is only the beginning.