Gang Signs & Prayer
Released: 13th October 2017
2xLP vinyl album of Stormzy's No.1 Album, Gang Signs & Prayer.
One of the more surprising developments of recent pop times is the elevation from street to charts of Grime music. Initially originating in East London and since spreading around the UK, with different geographical sub-genres sprouting up, a number of stars from the scene have made the jump to super-stardom. Unlike Dizzee Rascal who changed his sound significantly when the time came, 2017's darling Stormzy has taken his tough and ready sound with him. Politically engaged, positive and impeccably erudite, Stormzy's rhymes on Gang Signs & Prayer are super-charged and elastic. As someone who's made a name for himself on social media by engaging the young in politics and fighting against the various systems that oppress those whose voice gets edged out in our culture, it's easy to forget that his skill is behind the mic.
Each track fizzes with wit, with songs like Bad Boys sending up the gang culture and the cliches that its rife with while at other moments Stormzy's melodic sensibility in the production shines through. The production is startling in itself, lush strings and minor key movements and crisp beats that are spartan when they need to be and spare when it suits. So many touches in the music seem inventive, moving away from the DIY, minimal and sample-heavy grime the genre started out with and embracing a bigger palette. Indeed, there's almost spiritual elements here that remind the listener of the graceful ire last seen on Solange's album A Seat At The Table. The sense of balance through out this record is really astounding and deserves to be heard outside any confines of genre.