Stormzy: Being put in a box triggered me

The musician said “going on a journey of self discovery” had helped him.

Stormzy has spoken about previously feeling triggered if people accused him of ‘selling out’ or ‘going mainstream’ with his music.

But the 28-year-old musician said over the past few years that “getting closer to God and self-reflecting and going on a journey of self discovery” and “standing in his truth” had helped him.

Originally from south London, he rose to fame with his song Shut Up, which was released as a freestyle and posted on YouTube.

Brit Awards 2020 – Press Room – London
Stormzy with the Brit Award for Best British Male at the Brit Awards 2020 (Ian West/PA)

His 2017 debut album, Gang Signs And Prayer, was the first grime album to reach number one in the UK and was named album of the year at the 2018 Brit Awards.

It was followed two years later by Heavy Is The Head, which also went on to become a number one chart-topper.

Speaking on the final episode of Leading Vibe Radio on Apple Music 1, he said: “I’ve broken so free of this. So I give God the glory for that.

“One of my triggers was always the box I was put in as an artist especially coming from grime.

“I’m a grime MC, I was a grime MC, I’m not a grime MC, coming through the route I came through, you’re meant to do this, you’re meant to do that, and if I start singing it’s like, ‘Ah, you you’re selling out or you’re mainstream or commercial’.

“I had all those things thrown on my name in terms of ‘sell out’ and ‘going pop’ and all of these things. It always used to trigger me because I always used to think I’m genuinely being the most authentic, honest artist and version of myself.

“There’s never been a time in the studio with my music where I’ve made a decision that was like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna do this to be mainstream or we’re gonna do this to sell records or we’re gonna do this to blow up there’. Never.”

“But of course the product of my work was causing me to blow up and go mainstream. So people would associate that with me making those decisions actively and that used to trigger me.”

He explained to Leading Vibe Radio host, Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems: “The reason why it triggered me was probably coming from a vulnerable place. It felt like it’s the equivalent of a child thinking, ‘Whatever you accuse me of doing, I’m not even doing that’.

“I used to have that kind of mentality. I’m just trying to be who I am, the musician I am.

“So that used to trigger me a bit, but I feel like the past few years, just getting closer to God and self-reflecting and going on a journey of self discovery and just really like standing in my purpose and really standing in who I am as a man and standing in who I’ve been ordained to be and standing in my truth and understanding, this is my truth.”

In March, while on stage during the first night of his much-delayed Heavy Is The Head UK tour in Cardiff, he delighted fans by announcing that his third album would be released this year.

The Brit Award winner and Glastonbury headliner said of navigating fame that it helps him to separate himself from the “noise”.

He added: “My family makes me feel normal.

“If you can manage to separate yourself from that in the careers that we’re in it’ll give you a little bit more clarity, give you a little bit more room to breathe, to think.

“And that’s a big part of how I stay, whatever normal is, in this kind of abnormal journey we’re on”.

Leaving Vibe Radio is hosted by Tems and Muyiwa, with Stormzy’s interview airing at 3pm on June 11 on Apple Music 1.

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