Following his triumphant 2017 debut album Gang Signs & Prayers that shot straight to Number One and marked his spot as one to watch in the music scene, Stormzy has released his highly anticipated sophomore album ‘Heavy is the Head.’ Sophomore albums are always a nerve-racking time for artists, they are the definer for if an artist is a one-trick pony, if the artist has more to offer than their debut and often help to solidify their space in the music industry. Heavy is the Head has certainly cemented Stormzy’s place as one of the top players of the British scene and a true leader for grime music.
A key theme to the sophomore album is struggling. After opening up about his mental health previously, the rapper delves deeper into his suffering and inner conflicts multiple times across this record. Crown discusses the struggles of being seen as the leader of a genre, a spokesperson for the black youth and the struggle of wanting to look on the positive sides of life but the negatives can still drag you down. Rainfall opens a dialogue on how as Stormzy has evolved into a renowned star but has since become subject to fake friends. As well as the struggles of being a representative of young black men and fighting off those who try to drag you down, mental health is a key sector of the album. Do Better, arguably the most hard-hitting song on this album brings together every fear that has passed Stormzy in his life and the pain, heartache and suffering as a result of it. One Second featuring American singer-songwriter H,E,R touches more prominently on the star’s wellbeing:
I get this guilty feeling on the days I’m at my best
When all these demons that I carry get to messing with my head
So could you give me just a second just to get it off my chest please?
Alongside shining a light onto the dark side of fame, the album is a celebration of his triumphs. Heavy Is the Head catches your attention with the heavy brassy opening track Big Michael, transitioning into Audacity ft Headie One. The two bold tracks are where the rapper states his achievements and pride in himself over heavy trap beats to make a statement: Stormzy is THAT guy. Pop Boy, with one to watch for 2020 Aitch, spits in the faces of those who criticise him for ‘selling out’ for the mainstream and reflects the diversity of the rapper. The record also celebrates blackness, sampling Shackles (Praise You) and the Tracy Beaker theme tune (Someday), two very well-known songs that made statements for black women.
Heavy Is the Head is a genre-jumping album that discusses every area of Stormzy’s life from his mental health, his breakup with Maya Jama (Lessons) and his worries, but also celebrates the achievements that Stormzy has reached as a man of his genre. Glastonbury, multiple BRIT Awards and becoming a force to be reckoned with in the industry after only 4 short years in the mainstream. While sophomore albums are feared by artists after an incredibly successful debut, Stormzy has flipped this on his head and created a body of work that is raw, emotional but also incredibly full of life that proves why he is one of the biggest names in the British industry right now.
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Standout tracks: Pop Boy ft Aitch, One Second ft H.E.R, Lessons, Do Better, Bronze