Who is Stormzy?
Stormzy, born as Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr., is an English rapper. He has released one mixtape, one studio album, two extended plays and seven tracks till date. In February 2017, he released his debut album titled ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’ that peaked at # 1 on the UK Albums Chart, making it the first ever grime album to reach the position on the chart. He is also known for winning the ‘Best Grime Act’ at the 2014 and 2015 MOBO Awards. Stormzy started out as a road rapper, rapping in a way closer to hip hop than grime. He then started making videos for YouTube but it wasn’t until the rapper began posting his Wicked Skengman freestyles that he attracted much wider attention. Eventually, he became a household name and joined the music industry. Since then, Stormzy has become one of the most influential artistes to look out for. His most successful single till date is "Shut Up", a BPI platinum-selling track which was initially released on YouTube. The song was then officially released and soon it went on to reach #8 on the UK Singles Chart. Stormzy is presently in a relationship with the UK presenter Maya Jama. He calls himself "a child of grime" who is influenced by the likes of the artistes Skepta and Wiley.
Childhood & Early Life
Stormzy was born as Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr. on 26 July 1993 in Thornton Heath, London. He has three siblings and was raised by a single mother. Stormzy is of Ghanaian descent. He is the cousin of Nadia Rose, a nominee of the BBC Sound of 2017.
He was educated at Harris Academy South Norwood. At the age of 11, he started rapping, performing with rappers at his local youth club.
During a 2016 Q&A session at the Oxford University, he talked about his school days. He confessed that he had been a very naughty child in school who did everything mischievous for his own entertainment. Despite been naughty, he used to pass exams with good grades.
Before pursuing a music career full-time, Stormzy attended Leamington Spa for an apprenticeship and worked in quality assurance for about two years at an oil refinery.
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Stormzy first garnered attention via his “Wicked Skengman” freestyles in the UK underground music scene. He then went on to release his debut Extended Play titled ‘Dreamers Disease’ in 2014. That year, he also appeared on the TV show ‘Later with Jools Holland,’ singing the track "Not That Deep."
Also in 2014, Stormzy got featured in a number of music videos for various artistes including Chip and Shalo’s "I'm Fine", Avelino's "No Comment", Professor Green's "Hugs & Kisses" and Wiley's "Grew Up In", to name a few.
In March 2015, he released a single titled "Know Me From" which peaked at #49 on the UK Singles Chart and later acquired silver status by BPI. In September 2015, the rapper came out with the final chapter of his "WickedSkengMan" freestyle series titled "WickedSkengMan 4" as well as a studio version of "Shut Up" freestyle.
His track "Shut Up," released from “WickedSkengMan 4,” originally charted at #59. In December 2015, he performed the song at a boxing event. After the performance, the song started ascending up on the iTunes chart. The song eventually peaked at #8.
Also in 2015, he featured on numerous remixes, such as Yungen's "Ain't On Nuttin'", Raleigh Ritchie's "The Greatest" and Nick Jonas' "Chains". He also collaborated with P Money, Big Narstie, and Youngs Teflon and released the non-album single "TRKRZ". The same year, Stormzy released the non-album single "Dude" along with Lethal Bizzle.
In April 2016, he dropped the non-album single "Scary". That year, he appeared in the remix song "Feed 'Em to the Lions" along with Fekky, Tempa T, Lethal Bizzle, Rou and Wiley. The rapper also teamed up with various artistes and released a number of singles as a featured artist, such as Chip's "Hear Dis", Tanika's "Out Here", Raye's "Ambition" and Ray BLK's "My Hood".
In 2017, Stormzy recorded the singles Solo 45's "5ive", Little Mix's "Power" and Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You (Remix)" as a featured artist. In July 2018, it was reported that he is partnering with the publishing company Penguin Random House to launch a new imprint called #Merky Books.
Stormzy released his first ever album titled ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’ on 24 February 2017. It debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart. This album includes the hit singles “Cigarettes & Cush", "Big for Your Boots", "Cold" and "Blinded by Your Grace, Pt. 2".
The song "Big for Your Boots" was a huge success and peaked at #6 on the UK singles chart. It later went on to be accredited platinum by BPI. His single "Blinded by Your Grace, Pt. 2" peaked at #7 on the UK singles chart and later acquired a platinum status.
Controversies & Scandals
In November 2017, Stormzy apologised after it became apparent that years back he had posted some messages on Twitter that were homophobic. The messages included a tweet where the rapper called a gay character on the drama ‘EastEnders’ a "fucking fag". Stormzy also condemned another twitter user by saying "are you a fag?" and even urged his fans to post the message “this black boy is a fucking fag” on social media.
Stormzy is currently in a relationship with the famous media personality Maya Jama. The couple has been together for over three years and once also publicly expressed their feelings for each other in a conversation with Vogue magazine. Stormzy even dedicated a song to his girlfriend on her 22nd birthday and frequently mentions her on social media.
In 2016, he endorsed Jeremy Corbyn. In an interview with ‘The Guardian,’ the rapper spoke of his admiration for the Labour Party leader’s activism.
In September 2017, Stormzy called the Prime Minister Theresa May a "paigon", a phrase used to refer to an untrustworthy person.