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Stormzy - This Is What I Mean (Album Review)

Tuesday, 29 November 2022 Written by Jack Terry

It's been almost a decade since Stormzy emerged as grime's new golden boy, with his Shut Up freestyle paving the way for his debut album ‘Gang Signs And Prayer’ to hit number one in the UK, and a 2019 headline slot at Glastonbury. Today, these achievements have bought him ample freedom to do what he wants on his third album ‘This Is What I Mean’.

Taking in everything from afrobeat and soul to R&B and gospel, this is a new page in the book of Stormzy. While hushed tones and sung melodies have been seen previously on Blinded By Your Grace, Pt 1, that more tender approach is wholly on display here.

Firebabe has Stormzy opt for gentle crooning, while Bad Blood laments lost love, and lyrically there’s raw vulnerability laced throughout the album.

It possesses a sense of romance and honesty when dealing with his public relationships, but he also visits topics of self harm and depression in a manner that is uncomfortable, bleak and ultimately reassuring. 

“Me and suicidal thoughts, we haven't spoke for years,” he intones on I Got My Smile Back, adding:  “The last time I linked depression was a while back.” Suddenly, the braggadocious, tough exterior crumbles to reveal the effects of the pressure Stormzy has been under throughout his career, making for a spectacularly human characteristic for the record.

While the title track does revert to the hard rapped style we’ve grown accustomed to, even that zeroes in on Stormzy doing what he wants. “Time to make a statement / Time to free my mind of limitations,” are the rhymes of a man refusing to be tied down by what’s expected of him. ‘This Is What I Mean’ is an act of creative expression and one that spotlights Stormzy as a resolutely multifaceted, brave and brilliant talent.

Stormzy Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri August 18 2023 - LONDON Victoria Park

Compare & Buy Stormzy Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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