A London-based grime MC of Ghanaian heritage, Stormzy launched his career clashing at youth clubs around his hometown. His performances evolved from grime-only music that showed a love of artists like Skepta to more rap-oriented material that reflected Stormzy’s growing appreciation for artists like Drake. Late in 2013 he began uploading his “Wicked Skengman” series of freestyles over classic grime beats; in 2014, he made his official debut with the EP Dreamers Disease. A year later he released the single “Know Me From” along with “WickedSkengMan 4,” the first track in his “WickedSkengMan” freestyle series and a Top 20 hit in the U.K. That December, Stormzy performed the single’s B-side, “Shut Up,” at a match between heavyweight boxers Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte.
The song jumped into the Top 40 following the broadcast, and the rapper launched a campaign to have the song top the charts during Christmas. This boosted the track to the number eight position, and the number one position on the R&B singles chart. Before returning to the studio to record his debut LP, he released non-album single “Scary” in the spring of 2016. Stormzy returned in 2017 with Gang Signs & Prayer (#Merky Records), which featured the single “Big for Your Boots” and appearances by Kehlani, MNEK, and Ghetts. ~ David Jeffries