Story by Ladiah Thomas / Contributing Writer
UK rapper Michael Omari Jr., known more popularly by the stage name Stormzy, recently released his 16 track debut album “Gang Signs & Prayer.”
Stormzy performs a unique style of hip-hop that is influenced by electronic music. This style is commonly referred to as “grime” in the UK, where it originated. The twenty-three-year-old rapper is one of the fastest-growing grime artists in modern hip-hop.
“Gang Signs & Prayer” ranges from big and boisterous to relaxed and introspective. The first three tracks on the album are in your face. These initial songs sound more typical rap music from the likes of popular American rappers. “Blinded By Your Grace” is made up of two parts that are both slow and soulful gospel-based tracks. Overall, the album boasts an excellent variety of moods and dynamics.
The album’s standout track and my personal favorite is called “Cigarettes and Cush.” This may or may not be due to the fact that the track features my favorite singer, Kehlani, but Stormzy certainly holds his own no matter of who is featured on his songs. “Cigarettes and Cush” has a super chill R&B vibe. Add Stormzy’s lyrical ability and flow control to the mix, and you have a great hip-hop song for cruising down the road at night.
“100 Bags” also deserves an honorable mention. The song is a touching dedication to his mom for staying by his side through rise to success and life in general. It’s refreshing to see a young, growing rapper make a song for their parents.
Listeners need not bother with the tracks “Cold” and “Shut Up.” Both are very repetitive and hard to follow. I just don’t understand how these songs fit into the context of the album as a whole. Neither seemed to convey meaning or tell a story.
“Gang Signs & Prayer” is an excellent introduction to Stormzy’s talent and sound. If you haven’t checked out Grime music, Stormzy is certain to make an impression on you. Those interested in the ever-evolving landscape of modern hip-hop should definitely set aside time to check out “Gang Signs & Prayer.”