2.3.17

#GSAP





Gang Signs & Prayer dropped last Friday which means I've had all weekend and then some to listen, re-listen and listen again. I think we all thought it wasn't possible to love Stormzy anymore but we were wrong.

Stormzy is 23. I turn 23 this year. When I was younger, I'd admire the success of 20-somethings and think to myself, that's gonna be me. At only 22, I've still got time but I'm not yet where I wanna be. A friend of mine told me not to worry and that Stormzy just got lucky. Bullshit, I said. He worked damn hard and I'm gonna do the same. I'm feeling inspired, to say the least.

I digress.

I've never felt qualified to review music and so I've always left it to the professionals. A few days ago, however, an article was released blaming Zoella and other YouTubers for declining literacy amongst British teens and I was like: oh, wow (I hope you all read that in the voice of Ross from Friends). I definitely don't need a degree in journalism to share an opinion because, evidently, even the ones that do get it really wrong sometimes. Whilst I don't know any technical terms, I do have a pair of ears and if what I hear sounds good (or doesn't) I'm going to let you know.

I digress once again.



In Gang Signs & Prayer, grime meets grace. We've got the bangers and the ballads. The above meme says it better than any words really but I'm going to have to try and write something otherwise I won't have a blog post.

GSAP, the album's acronym, is a crusade in its own right. Stormzy has documented a genuine account of raw emotion where nothing feels forced; no frills or frolicks.

First Things First firstly had me going not from the lyrics but from the beat. A dark and twinkly track, reminiscent of the night's sky, produced by Mura Masa opens GSAP for Stormzy. Even though we're only on Track 1, Stormzy's drops the D word - depression. Hearing about the struggles of (man like) Stormzy could potentially be life-changing particularly for young people.

“All my young black kings rise up, man, this is your year 

All my young black queens right there

It’s been a long time coming I swear.” 

These words are taken from Cold, the second song on GSAP, and make up a few of my favourite lines from the whole album. Whilst I already know that 2017 is our year and I fully intend to serve #blackgirlmagic on the daily, having Stormzy tell you that makes it all the more special.

Religious or not, the gospel genre is good for the soul. Stormzy has me believing in a God I don't even think exists. Mad, as he would say. On Blinded By Your Grace, parts 1 and 2, we're also blessed with a singing Stormzy which I'm so here for. I love, love, love when artists sing with their British accents.

Cigarettes and Cush, featuring Kehlani and Lily Allen, is all about young love. In an interview with FADER, Stormzy put it perfectly and said this song sounded like Sunday. Love songs never usually make me feel any type of way but slow jams such as this are an exception. The grit grime adds to a love song makes it feel genuine, or legit, as they would say.

Even though Stormzy and I are worlds apart, I relate to 100 Bags in which he discusses single parenthood. My family is made up of just me and my mum with my dad nowhere to be found. I met him once and that was enough. I wouldn't have it any other way but I too owe everything to my mum. I think I might start calling her Mumzy.

Don't Cry For Me carefully explores notions of home with stunning strings by Rosie Danvers and of course, beautiful vocals by Rayleigh Ritchie. I grew up on a council estate so as you can imagine, I'm no stranger to a lot of what Stormzy discusses. A lot of my childhood friends got consumed by Hackney and its hood.

Stormzy closes the album with a rage filled rant titled Lay Me Bare. He can't believe the cheek of his dad to ask him for help after all that went down between them. Some people have no shame. Real and raw are the two words I'd chose to best describe this final track and GSAP in general. It's been emotional. I can honestly say that I've never cried at grime until this LP debut.

Now let's back track because I missed out Big For Your Boots. I wanted to end on a hype ting. Anytime I've been listening to grime, I can't help slang slipping out in sentences here and there. Anyway, as I was saying: Big For Your Boots is one of a couple of tracks we'd already heard but that doesn't matter because it never gets old. As well as the song itself, I can't get enough of the music video. My favourite scene is that which is shot in Morley's chicken shop with Maya Jama. The line up of strong women in the video in general is very impressive. To see Stormzy up on stage performing this live at summer festival is a must for me this year - I'm thinking Parklife.

Now I've got to go and prepare myself for Ed Sheeran's album which is out in less than 24 hours. The bromance between Stormzy and Ed is ship-worthy. Ed's album is out tomorrow so now I've got to go and prepare myself for that.

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