Album review: Stormzy remains a work in progress

It will be bittersweet for Stormzy that his second album arrives the day the British Labour party was confirmed as suffering a historic general election trouncing.

Album review: Stormzy remains a work in progress

Stormzy - Heavy is the Head

[rating]4[/rating]

It will be bittersweet for Stormzy that his second album arrives the day the British Labour party was confirmed as suffering a historic general election trouncing.

The grime superstar born Michael Omari was one of the more prominent musicians to publicly back Jeremy Corbyn — a reminder that no matter how thoroughly a performer commands the spotlight on social media, there are nonetheless limits to their influence in the real world.

Still Omari does not come across as an artist plagued by self-doubt.

Heavy Is The Head may take its name from a Shakespeare quote pertaining to the toll inevitably paid by those pursuing power, prestige and prominence.

Yet this is a record that revels in its headline status, with Stormzy cast as both bruised and vulnerable pop star but also as one of the voices of young Britain.

All that and it is forcefully eclectic too.

Stormzy positions himself at the centre of a gale-force of swagger on opener ‘Big Michael’.

Here, rhyming against swell of horns, he reflects on headlining Glastonbury (the first grime star to do so) and talks down to the rivals hoping to steal his perch.

The aggrandisement continues on ‘Crown’, where he reels off his social justice work (including establishing a scholarship for black students at Cambridge).

Yet there’s a stinger.

“What you talking about,” he reminds himself. “I’m Rachael’s little brother”.

The brittle chart icon, full of ego yet plagued with self doubt, is a familiar archetype (and it suggests Stormzy may have more in common with Robbie Williams than he might care to admit).

However, Stormzy wears his jitters with pride and it is that streak of uncertainty that imbues even more fortnight bangers such as ‘Vossi Bop’ and Ed Sheeran/Burna Boy collaboration ‘Own It’ with a throb of humanity.

As generational spokesperson Stormzy remains a work in progress.

As one of our more fascinating pop stars, Heavy Is The Head suggests he may be approaching his imperial phase.

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