STORMZY: The Rise To Fame
- Shineze Henry-Wallace
It’s been an exciting year for South London rapper Stormzy! Between winning an award in the new Grime category at the MOBOs, supporting Lethal B on his ‘Dench’ tour, and performing at Red Bull’s culture clash with Boy Better Know, the 21-year-old from South London - who has widely been attributed as the artist that is bringing back Grime - caught up with Live Mag UK, despite a very hectic schedule. We talk to him about Charlie Sloth, 'Peng Tings on the Whatsapp' and what his family think of his success.
You’re now blue tick verified which basically means you’re famous! How does it feel?
Is that what it means? I don’t think it means that! It’s just a blue tick. You can get one. I’ll get you one. Holla at Charlie Sloth, Charlie Sloth will get you the blue tick by Monday morning. Charlie Sloth’s the man, trust me.
How did you get the name Stormzy?
It sounded really cool you know. I think God puts names in my head, like, ‘Wicked Skengman’, ‘Stiff-chocolate’, I dunno where they came from. People are like: “What are they?” I’m like: “Bruv, I dunno. I’m as confused as you.” It just came to my head and I ran with it.
Everyone is calling you the front man of Grime; do you feel that there is a lot of pressure required from you?
I think whenever you’re in a good position, there’s always pressure, no matter what. So if you’re doing well in your craft, there’s always pressure to deliver but that’s all a part of it, you get what I’m saying? There’s always gonna be pressure no matter where I’m at. I’m always gonna have pressure to deliver, to make good music, to have good videos, to be entertaining.
What do think is different about you that’s created such a buzz?
I ain’t got a clue. I dunno! I’m joking. I think I’m quite down to earth. I think people can kinda – I don’t wanna say relate to me- but it’s just the whole human factor. I’m just like you, I’m a cool guy. You can see me and we can have a Nando’s and whatever.
You’re the first person to win a MOBO in the new Grime category, how did that feel?
That’s sick man. I think that’s an honour. Because this is a scene I’ve been watching throughout my whole childhood, it’s a scene I’ve grew up on, a scene that’s heavily influenced me. I’m a child of Grime, so for me to go and win the first ever grime category for the MOBOs…that’s just an honour.
It seems BBK have taken you under their wing, how did that relationship come about?
I tweeted Skepta ages ago, saying, “One day you’re gonna know about me, trust me. We’re gonna link up.” He aired it off – not like that though. I dropped my ‘Behind Barz’ and Skepta saw it and he tweeted it and then, a few of them was just tweeting me and showing me love. It just built up from that and here we are!
A lot of artists build up a vibe then they disappear, let us know why you’re here to stay…
Because I want this more than anything. I’ve got an EP called the ‘Dreamers Disease’ and the whole idea of it is that when the dream controls your life and it’s everything you want and you’re obsessed with it. I couldn’t imagine me doing anything other than music. I love progress more than anything. Some people love money, some people love girls, but I love progressing, elevating and getting closer to your dreams, that’s what I love. So I think my love for that should carry me thorough.
Speaking of Dreamers Disease, the last track Jupa is an Afrobeats track. Will you be going be doing more Afrobeats music or was that just a one-off?
I’m a very versatile musician, in the sense where, I just flex on anything I like. I’m not the biggest fan of Afrobeats, but Wills and Shins reached out to me with this tune and I listened to it. I was like: “Bruh, this is sick!” Music is music. If it’s sick, it’s sick, regardless of whatever it is, and I’m down for good music.
Tell us a bit about ‘Peng Tings On theWhatsApp’
I think it’s another one of them things, where, you can relate to it. Every man out there must have at least one peng ting on the WhatsApp and you’re proud of that, do you know what I mean? That’s my peng ting on my WhatsApp!”
So what you’re saying is that you’ve got Peng Tings on your WhatsApp?
Oh Nah! Not me. I’m just speaking for the general public.
“There’s a formula for success. It’s just hard work, natural talent, being intelligent, making the right decisions and the work ethic.”
Who inspires you outside of musical influences and why?
My brothers, all the people around me. They inspire me. I’m inspired by greatness. Whatever’s great, that inspires me.
Are you looking to get signed?
The whole signed and unsigned argument is not something for me to dwell on. That’s the politics of everything. That’s a question I’ll deal with whenever it happens, but I think the whole unsigned and signed thing is so debatable. There’s a lot of, “Stormzy, you should sign” “Stormzy, you shouldn’t sign!” But with me, I’m gonna carry on working hard, carry on putting out music, carry on doing my thing. Whatever happens, happens. For now we’ll just have fun and put out some good music.
It’s been a massive few months for you, what happens next?
Hard work. I think everyone expects me to say: “Argh yeah, 10 albums” or “Yeah, I’ve got five singles”. I’m just gonna carry on working hard. I’m gonna carry on killing it. I’m gonna carry on doing what I was doing but on a higher level. Make sure my music’s better, make sure I’m growing, make sure I’m learning everyday. This is the time where I apply pressure. I’m not gonna take a step back and think, “Yeah I’ve done this over the past year, so I’m cool…” Nah… I’m gonna go for it.
What advice would you give to budding artists trying to break into the industry?
Every time I’m asked this question, I say the same thing. I get tweets from people saying: “Ah Stormz, how did you do it? It’s inspiring!” Of course, it’s difficult, but the formula isn’t difficult. Don’t even look at me. Look at the Lord Sugar’s and the flipping Lil Wayne’s, Jay-Z’s and the Richard Branson’s. There’s a formula for success. It’s just hard work, natural talent, being intelligent, making the right decisions and the work ethic. There’s so many examples, look at Krept and Konan, look at Drake, look at all these people, you get what I’m saying? All they are is talented people who worked hard. So just work hard. There’s no flipping secret to it, trust me.
What does your family think of your success?
They’re proud man. I think it’s good for them to see that, because I’m Ghanaian. It’s not even that music’s not the thing, but they might see my music videos and be like, “What are you doing Junior, c’mon man!” For them to finally see, like, actually, ‘he’s alright at rapping, isn’t he?’ I think it’s good for them.
Stormzy’s EP ‘Dreamer’s Disease‘ is out now on iTunes.