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06th Jul 2019

Stormzy is the voice of a generation – do not miss him at Longitude this weekend

Rudi Kinsella

Stormzy Dublin

 Stormzy is quickly becoming the defining voice of this generation.

It takes a lot for rappers to become a prominent voice in the zeitgeist, and it always has. They’re regularly overlooked, ignored, and often ridiculed for trying to engage in important conversation.

Despite the fact that rappers, more so than artists in any other genres, tend to try and convey a message in their music, they still have to do more to really make it in the upper echelon of pop culture.

It takes a lot to break the mould, so to speak. As of last weekend, Stormzy has officially broken the mould.

It’s not as if it has taken until now for people to sit up and take notice of the 25-year-old grime rapper, but the reaction to his performance at Glastonbury seriously feels like somewhat of a moment in music history.

With this performance, he became the second youngest performer to headline the festival, second only to the late David Bowie. He also became the first solo black artist to headline the legendary festival. A real record breaker, and a part of modern history.

And with all this pressure on his shoulders, Stormzy smashed it out of the park.

He rapped expertly throughout, knowing when and where to slow the show down, in order to give the audience a chance to breathe. A Chris Martin duet, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into… even a bit of ballet for good measure.

He did all of this while rocking a Banksy-designed stab-proof vest, a nod to the rising levels of knife crime in his home of South London.

Despite it being his moment, Stormzy also took the time to be generous with the massive platform he had earned, paying respect to everyone and anyone who helped him get to where he is in his career.

But perhaps the most widely shared moment was during his ‘Vossi Bop’ performance, when he got close to 100,000 people to chant “Fuck the government and fuck Boris”.

A historic moment. An attempt to get thousands of young people thinking about politics, making it seem cool. Making it feel like something worth discussing. Because he knows it is.

Do the estimated 100,000 people in attendance really feel that way about Boris Johnson, or the government as a whole? Maybe not. But it’s getting them thinking.

This isn’t the first time Stormzy has done something like this either.

At the Brit Awards in 2018, he took to the stage, shirtless and furious, looking ready for a UFC fight and rapped the words: “Theresa May, where’s that money for Grenfell? What, you thought we just forgot about Grenfell? You criminals. And you’ve got the cheek to call us savages, you should do some jail time, you should pay some damages. We should burn your house down and see if you can manage it. MPs sniff coke, we just smoke a bit of cannabis.”

Clip via Stormzy

A massive, controversial, powerful statement to the then-Prime Minister of Britain. Aired on national television for millions of people to see, and he faced no real repercussions. That is a level of power and stardom that it is extremely rare in today’s society. It’s a lack of fear that has always been common among rappers, but normally their words fall on deaf ears.

Not Stormzy’s. Because if you choose not to listen the first time, then he’s beating you over the head with them the next.

We’ve gotten this far without even addressing the actual music he makes, or the live performance that he puts on. As you might imagine, both are incredible.

It’s rare to see an artist transition from peaceful gospel songs to the most vicious of mosh pits in a matter of seconds, but Stormzy makes it work somehow.

An hour long set with Stormzy will leave you feeling like you just did a 10-mile run, and then went 12 rounds with Anthony Joshua immediately afterwards. But we swear that’s somehow a good thing.

Drenched in sweat, pumped, feeling ready for war. Inspired, motivated, determined to do something with your life.

And all he did was rap on a stage.

Education is a big thing for the big man too.

He recently launched a book publishing company for young aspiring writers, and a scholarship service for young black students in the UK. The scholarship programme was accused of being racist, which he addressed on his most recent song ‘Crown’, saying: “I’ve done a scholarship for the kids, they say it’s racist. That’s not anti-white, it’s pro-black. Hang me out to dry, I won’t crack.”

Constant efforts to improve the community and society around him and regular positive political moves result in Stormzy being more of a “politician” than those in power he resents so much.

But for now, he’s no politician. Just a top class artist, and a 10/10 live performer.

If you’re heading along to Marlay Park on Saturday, make sure you go and see Stormzy.

Not just to see him lead a chorus of thousands of Irish teenagers chanting “Fuck Boris”, but because by the looks of his career path, you’ll be proud you did in 10 years’ time.

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