Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
The second full length album from Stormzy gets off to an unpromising start with a disembodied voice encouraging the UK rapper-cum-megastar to "release some f*ckin' music, man - d*ckhead" and this turn of phrase sets the scene for a release chock full of seriously offensive language. Like the man himself, this album is full of pendulum-like contradictions with Stormzy professing his Christian faith in typically forthright fashion - to be fair, he's never shied away from it - before releasing a scattergun shower of profanities which suggests that either our man hasn't quite grasped that following Christ requires him to lay down his old ways or that he's pandering to the masses in order to maintain his mainstream appeal and wealth. Elsewhere, Stormzy quite rightly tells of the struggles of being a black man in today's society and how prejudices are still shockingly present before undoing any good work by denigrating his brothers of colour by calling them "n*ggers" at every turn - in one track, he even uses the phrase "I hate you n*ggers" several times to further muddy the waters. In addition, Stormzy has the perfect podium from which to pass sage, meaningful and necessary comment on the failings of the current political regime but, whilst there's no doubting he can be a skilled wordsmith when he wants to be, he instead offers up lazy 'f' words at the government and Boris. A humble persona is briefly unearthed in the inward-looking "Do Better" but this considered approach is drowned out by this undeniably successful artist bragging about Brit awards, audience sizes and being the best there is whilst very ugly misogynistic utterances in "Bronze" and "Audacity" respectively betrays a man who seems to believe his own hype and then some. Although 12 out of the 16 tracks on offer here warrant an "explicit" sticker on Spotify, things come to a very ugly head in the simply repulsive "Wiley Flow" which, in one 15 second stretch, contains the 'f' word seven times whilst the rest of the song uses 'f', 'c' and 'n' words with abandon. Much like the recent review of fellow hip-hop star Chance The Rapper's latest release on this website, Stormzy's new album would have got a much higher rating based on musicality alone but it's the continual stream of swearing that dominates and overshadows proceedings here. Consequently, one must question the wisdom of xRhythms and CR Radio featuring an expletive-free number "Don't Forget To Breathe" on their playlists given that listeners may then explore the parent album in all its depraved glory. Now I'm aware that, for many Christians, Stormzy is an inspiration. In a recent interview, worship leader Amanda Roche (otherwise known as Last Of The Spoken) said, "When he was on stage at Glastonbury, Stormzy was praising God and singing Jesus' name shamelessly in his lyrics. It was amazing." Very true. But it's also amazing that a proclaimer of Christ would be prepared to record some of the obscenity presented on 'Heavy Is The Head'.
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