If Skepta is the king of grime, then surely Stormzy is the reigning prince. The London-based MC's first LP, Gang Signs & Prayer, is a triumphant success. Stormzy was thrust centre stage following the success of his 2015 single "Shut Up". Since then, he has been making waves, both in the UK and internationally. Gang Signs & Prayer has been a highly-anticipated release, and Stormzy hasn’t let us down.
The album is a molotov cocktail of sounds and emotions, where Stormzy jumps from aggressive to melancholy to sentimental real quick. It’s an ecstatic tour-de-force, cementing Stormzy's hard-earned place at the top of the grime hierarchy.
On Gang Signs & Prayer, Stormzy spits some of his coldest bars to date. Suitably, the second song is called is called "Cold", and it’s one of the album’s strongest tracks, setting up a gruelling standard for the rest of the release. However, Stormzy has no trouble meeting his own standards, and even surpassing them. "Blinded by Your Grace, Pt 1." is a beautiful, reverential song, providing an intermission from the album’s the hard-hitting openers. "Mr. Skeng" is both playful and threatening; Stormzy spits on top of a classic garage beat, warning other MCs not to cross him. "Cigarettes and Cush" is a hedonistic, sexy slow jam, which shows a different side to Stormzy's enigmatic persona, and provides a beautiful backdrop for Kehlani’s lilting vocals. "100 Bags" is a heart-wrenching ode to Stormzy’s single mother. Finally, the album concludes with "Lay Me Bare", where Stormzy reflects on his absent father. This song is raw and vulnerable; it’s hard to imagine a more fitting ending to such an enthralling musical experience.
It’s an exciting time for grime, and Gang Signs & Prayer is sure to be one of the genre’s most substantial success stories. Stormzy is an intriguing, multifaceted artist, and this album is a strong proclamation of his talent.
Gang Signs & Prayer Track Listing:
01. First Things First
03. Bad Boys ft. J Hus & Ghetts
04. Blinded By Your Grace, Pt. 1
05. Big For Your Boots
06. Velvet / Jenny Francis (Interlude) ft. Jenny Francis
07. Mr Skeng
08. Cigarettes & Cush ft. Kehlani
09. 21 Gun Salute ft. Wretch 32
10. Blinded By Your Grace, Pt. 2 ft. MNEK
11. Return of the Rucksack
12. 100 Bags
13. Don't Cry For Me ft. Raleigh Ritchie
14. Crazy Titch (Interlude) ft. Crazy Titch
15. Shut Up
16. Lay Me Bare