When word dropped that Stormzy’s new album Heavy Is The Head would be released on 13 December there were, to my mind, three possible scenarios. Firstly, it would be the perfect toast to a stunning Labour election victory. Alternatively, it would offer consolation in the wake of a devastating defeat. Finally, the “Fuck the government and fuck Boris” refrain of Vossi Bop would be the defiant slogan of the continuing struggle.
Since his stunning 2017 confessional debut Gang Signs & Prayer, Stormzy has adopted an increasingly militant stance. He was one of the pioneers of #grime4Corbyn, and wowed a nationwide audience with a sprinkler-soaked, Grenfell-dedicated performance at the 2018 Brit Awards. He then smashed it out of the park with his headline set at Glastonbury Festival.
As this album title and lead single Crown illustrate, Stormzy has assumed a huge leadership role, nurturing and seeking to lift others as his own star rises.
Grime with its underlying menace, grit and machismo may not be to everyone’s taste, but the likes of Kano, Ghetts and Lady Leshurr undoubtedly speak to an experience of Britain’s young. H.I.T.H marks the return of the leader of the pack.