Heavy Is The Head 7 ( 2019 )
Big Michael / Audacity / Crown / Rainfall / Rachael's Little Brother / Handsome / Do Better / Don't Forget to Breathe (Interlude) / One Second / Pop Boy / Own It / Wiley Flow / Bronze / Superheroes / Lessons / Vossi Bop
Stormzy arrived at 'Heavy Is The Head That Wears The Crown' off the back of a headlining 'Glastonbury' performance and a chart topping debut LP 'Gang Star & Prayer'. 'Heavy is The Head That Wears The Crown' is a phrase implying somebody in charge and bearing great responsibilities. After the impact made by grime artist Stormzy's debut 'Gang Signs & Prayer' (which entered the UK charts at number one) expectation was indeed heavy on his shoulders to try and maintain such momentum. Featuring hit singles 'Vossi Bop', 'Own It', 'Crown' and 'Wiley Flow' - he needn't have worried in the end - both 'Vossi Bop' and 'Heavy Is The Head' itself peaked at number one in the UK.
I would suggest that perhaps sixty four minutes of grime music, largely up-tempo (unrelentingly so) is arguably too much. The near title track does attempt to mix things up a little during the chorus parts at least featuring a gospel choir of sorts, a welcome sonic respite. It follows two tracks and six and a half minutes which sport bravado and words such as 'Can’t tell where I’m headin' (No) / Could be Glasto’, could be Reading (Yes)' and 'When Banksy put the vest on me / Felt like god was testin' me' - also a lyric inspired in part by Stormzy's Glastonbury performance - artist Banksy had designed a striking union-jack outfit for Stormzy to wear. The last third of 'Rachael's Little Brother' does go smooth r'n'b although it is at odds with the rest of the track it belongs too.
'Handsome' is a highlight which has a popping, hypnotic rhythm. 'One Second' meanwhile featuring female singer 'H.E.R.' almost at times sounds like Stormzy is guesting on his own track - Ed Sheeran co-write 'Own It' sadly, is an Ed Sheeran co-write, and you can really tell. Talking of Ed Sheeran, track 'Wiley Flow' seemingly continues a feud Stormzy has with rapper 'Wiley' who wasn't impressed when Stormzy previously worked with Ed Sheeran on a track called 'Disappointed'. It comes across as rather forced and possibly could have been left off the album altogether. Better is 'Vossi Bop' which sports a haunting and dark rhythm and a good lyrical flow by Stormzy himself. This is a problem - the album could do with a little trimming - perhaps down to twelve tracks - as the best moments are quite a way ahead of the lesser ones. More isn't always more, if that makes sense? Still, even at the full sixteen tracks there is no doubting this is a solid second album from the UKs brightest grime star at present.