Heavy Is the Head

BY Clayton TomlinsonPublished Dec 23, 2019

Without a doubt, from North America, Stormzy is the "it" rapper of the UK. His wearing of the crown, that ever-unattainable aspect of rap popularity, is a foregone conclusion and his latest album Heavy Is the Head delves into the character of the king. Stormzy reflects both on his own rise, literally, and the figurative rise everyone must make on their own path to royalty. Heavy's downside is its Britishness, and if there are any bangers on this album, they have not made it across the pond.
His line from "Audacity," encapsulates the rise. He sings: "Had to slang this 'caine no Harry / Now my track suit says Balmain Paris." It's British, in that he references soccer and correctly pronounces Paris, but Stormzy is universal in his "I was there and now I'm here." He centres many of these songs in the political context that led to Boris Johnson's recent election as British Prime Minister. He often raps "Fuck Boris," in case anyone wondered his position.
The 26-year-old has the sagacity of a man much older, and that is why his music hits in the gut and not just the ear. There's introspection, there's thoughtfulness to reflect that Stormzy is a prominent artist in UK culture today. America has JAY-Z, UK has Stormzy.
His raps about depression and mental health, violence and how awful it is, about being the child of immigrants, and connects due to how feelingly and emotionally wrought they are. The album is connected by these lyrics and light, airy beats for the most part. A solid album but also not a surprising one. To boot, the main thing that grounds this album with a sense of time and place is the political side of it.

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