After his astounding and critically acclaimed debut album ‘Gang Signs and Prayers’, Stormzy had a lot to live up to for his second offering. Following successful personal ventures such as Merky Festival and philanthropy with Merky Books and Oxford Scholarships, Stormzy returns to the thing that he loves most…music. Here we review his second album ‘Heavy is The Head (H.I.T.H)’.
The album starts at breakneck speed setting up the premise and intent of the rest of the project. The lyrics “Not top two top one” and “Big Mike I’m standing with the greats, one week it’s Blinded by Your Grace next week it’s bang you in your face” perfectly present the juxtaposition of this album and Stormzy as an artist; unwavering faith, bravado and aggression.
The foundation of grime and hip hop stays true throughout with notable pre-released songs such as ‘Wiley Flow’ and ‘Vossi Bop’ emphasising Stormzy’s roots. These songs were further complimented with features from two of the UK biggest breakthrough stars Headie One and Aitch on ‘Audacity’ and ‘Pop Boy’ which will no doubt get consistent plays.
The track ‘Own It’ featuring Ed Sheeran and Burna Boy exhibited the international pull of Stormzy as well as his ability to make strong commercial hits.
Taking The Crown
The most impressive aspects of Stormzy’s album however were the artistic growth and musicality of his songs.
‘Crown’ is perhaps the staple of this project that knits the album together both from a conceptual point of view but also sonically. It honestly conveys vulnerability, artful chorus and beautiful backing vocals. This however was not the best song on the album which points to the overall quality of this album.
‘Rainfall’ presents a pleasant change of pace with a beautiful artful sample at the end that many will be familiar with. ‘Rachel’s Little Brother’ presents some of the further issues Stormzy grapples with adjusting to fame and expectation whilst ‘Handsome’ is a defiant declaration of self belief.
The strongest, most vulnerable and powerful songs appear in the final 3rd of the album. ‘Do Better’ shows that greatness is never without its problems, ‘Lessons’ addresses his break up with Maya Jama in familiar authenticity whilst ‘Bronze’ reinforced his claim to being at the summit of UK grime.
‘Superheroes’ is a thoroughly uplifting track encouraging everyone but specifically those of the BAME community to believe in themselves and their brilliance, a theme Stormzy has continued to champion throughout his career.
The best song on the project is ‘One Second’ featuring another internationally celebrated artist H.E.R. The pain and skill in H.E.R’s voice is perfectly complimented by the passion and cadence in Stormzy’s bare all verses. This is a song that illustrates the transparency Stormzy stands for, dovetailed expertly with H.E.R vocals. This track feels more like a collaborative story that exhibits the rawness of emotion rather than a song.
What becomes very apparent from Stormzy’s two albums is he knows how to put a body of work together in a powerful way. There are strong narratives throughout both but with this offering listeners can feel the maturity and growth within Stormzy as an artist. The use of guitars, choirs but more importantly the subject matter elevates this beyond his previous showing. In ‘Gang Signs and Prayers’ Stormzy kicked the door open, with ‘H.I.T.H’ Stormzy confirms he has snatched the crown.
8.2 / 10
Words by @MrPIAProgress