Stormzy is leading the pack of grime’s new generation of MCs by more than a few strides, and the energy and charisma promised on 2014’s “Know Me From” comes through in spades on his major label debut, Gang Signs & Prayers. Topics range from standard-issue street chat (“I was on the roads when Giggs made ‘Talkin’ The Hardest’”) to “Sorry Mum” (“100 Bags”) to roadman rico suave (“you're tryna' look into my soul and see the real Mike / I got a long term plan, I'm a long term man”) over a range of beats fusing the 150bpm hyperactivity of grime’s instrumental roots (“Cold,” “Big For Your Boots,” “Return Of The Rucksack”) with modern stateside-influenced vibes. A solemn, contemplative mood pervades the album on a handful of uplifting interludes (“Blinded By Your Grace” Parts 1-3) and a Max B-style sermon phoned in from jail by veteran MC Crazy Titch, currently serving a life sentence for murder. On closer “Lat Me Bare,” the Wicked Skengman channels the vulnerability of Dizzee Rascal’s disarmingly earnest debut Boy In Da Corner over a heart-wrenching piano-drill ballad to outstanding effect. If all that weren’t enough for you, “Shut Up” (Stormzy’s breakthrough tune built on Ruff Sqwad’s classic sino-grime riddim “Functions On The Low”) is tacked on for good measure as the penultimate track. Other standout moments: “Mr. Skeng,” “First Things First,” “Don’t Cry For Me.” Double vinyl pressing housed in gatefold sleeve with code for digital download. Recommended.
- double vinyl pressing
- gatefold sleeve
- digital download included
- music label: #Merky Records 2017
reviewed by eskiboi joe 10/2017