Stormzy is the role model that lots of people need, he should be praised and not vilified
In an era where young people feel the need to idolise celebrities, it's important that they choose the right ones. Stormzy is a brilliant role model, and should be treated as such.
Stormzy rose to fame in 2015, with a video of him rapping in the park with a number of his friends. It was the simplicity of the video, entitled Shut Up, that drew so many people to it, and the impressive cadence and presence that Stormzy displayed that made people fall in love with it. He had reached relative levels of fame the year before, winning Best Grime Act at the 2014 MOBO's, but it was Shut Up that really put him in the limelight.
Since then, he has had mainstream features with Ed Sheeran, Nick Jonas, Linkin Park, Little Mix among many other major artists. This is a feat that has never been matched by any other grime artist, and the genre itself has seen a huge boost in both respect and mainstream attention as a result of Stormzy's meteoric rise.
Clip via StormzyTV
But this level of attention is not necessarily a good thing. You now live in the public eye. And the media will take a stance on you fairly early, and once they do, there's not much you can do to change their mind. Unfortunately for Stormzy, certain news outlets devote their lives to finding some information that could ruin his career. This is a young man, who's talent and ambition has made him a global superstar, so naturally, someone out there has made it their job to catch them out.
Stormzy is an overtly religious man, who's message is more often than not a message of peace and love. He has songs about love, songs dedicated to his worship of God, and songs paying tribute to the hard work his mother did throughout his life, and how proud he is that he can repay her. But for some curious reason, he was chosen by certain news outlets as a target, and they are relentless with their attempts to discredit him at every turn.
One of 2017's most tragic incidents was the tragic Grenfell fire, which killed at least 70 people. A number of UK-based artists released a charity single, which went straight to number one, and all proceeds went to the families of those affected by the tragedy. Stormzy opened up the cover of Simon and Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', with the heart-breaking lyrics "I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start by saying I refuse to forget you/I refuse to be silenced/I refuse to neglect you." A touching sentiment from a man who was clearly deeply effected by the incident.
Clip via AFGVEVO
Stormzy stood up and showed more leadership than those in power did during this time. He stopped half-way through his performance at Glastonbury to say that "We are urging the authorities to tell the fucking truth. We are urging the government to be held accountable for fucking once." One would assume that this act of genuine sincerity and determination and kindness would keep him out of the firing line for a while at least, but apparently not.
Last month, the Daily Mail posted an article about how popular artists were encouraging the use of weed in their songs, and the blame was pinned mostly on Stormzy. They accused the rapper of using "product placement" when it comes to marijuana, and accused him of "fueling the use" of it. This article was written nine days after the same publication praised a 70-year old woman who believed that smoking weed is the key to her good health. This article, was obviously not seen as product placement in the Daily Mail's eyes, for some reason.
There appears to be a double-standard here, that Stormzy himself attributes to race, and it's hard to disagree, and even harder not to have sympathy for him.
Just this week, a headline emerged about a rapper named Crazy Titch had sex with a prison worker while serving life for murder. The Daily Mail referred to him as "Stormzy's friend". Another "news" story, that had absolutely nothing to do with Stormzy himself, yet his name is included in the headline, accompanied by his picture.
When he was recently accused of having posted some homophobic tweets when he was 18, he came out with what should be the blueprint for all genuine apologies in the future. He sincerely apologised, and referred to himself as "proudly ignorant", a term that is synonymous with young people these days.
There is no shame in being stupid when you're young. You're allowed to make mistakes, and in an era where people's mistakes will be published online for the world to see, careers and lives can be ruined in a matter of seconds. If young people can be taught that making mistakes are allowed, so long as when they grow into an adult, they can see the error in their ways, and be genuinely sorry for what they have done, then a valuable lesson will be learned.
For a lot of people, Stormzy is a more realistic role-model than most. He too grew up doing anything to appear cool and to fit in. He did things that he regrets, and said things that he wouldn't say today. He went from rags to riches, and learned a number of lessons along the way. The mistakes that he made are the same mistakes that young people these days will make, but with a role-model like him, hopefully they can learn that what you do as a young, impressionable teenager, does not define who you are for life.