Stormzy’s first album, Gang Signs & Prayer, is a masterpiece. The British grime emcee recorded a collection of tracks that allow listeners to feel as if they truly know him. Not only does he tell stories of a youth spent growing up on the streets of South London, he also explores his emotions and past relationships, even discussing his battle with depression.
While the album starts with traditional grime tracks like “First Things First”, “Cold” and “Bad Boys”, he quickly gets into one of the offerings that allows Gang Signs & Prayer to shine.
“Blinded by Your Grace, Pt.1” is a beautifully composed and delivered track. “Your love never lets me down, your love never leaves me out,” he sings over a keyboard similar to Kanye West’s “Only One”.
Following what may be the album’s best grime anthem, “Big for Your Boots”, is another sultry track.
“Velvet” showcases the diverse delivery capabilities that are sure to turn Stormzy into a star. He floats atop the slower, more soulful beat, then closes it out by serenading listeners with a smoky voiced verse – but not before firing shots at those who doubted his abilities to sing.
The transition from “Velvet” to “Mr. Skeng” exemplifies the album. Between the two tracks, Stormzy evolves from a vulnerable and introspective man to someone you don’t want to fuck with.
“Cigarettes & Cush”, “Blinded by Your Grace, Pt.2”, and the albums penultimate track “Shut Up”, are also standout songs, with the latter being a triumphant middle finger to anyone who didn’t believe in the British emcee.
Stormzy has said the he hopes Gang Signs & Prayer will bring grime to the masses. It’s a diverse album that needs to be listened to from front to back, with every song being a must-listen.
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