Why I think Stormzy headlining Glastonbury is a huge step forward for Black culture in the UK…

It’s crazy to think that in 2019, we are still saying “first black” but any progress is appreciated.

On the 15th of November 2018, it was announced that Stormzy would be headlining Glastonbury 2019. Glastonbury, being the largest greenfield festival in the WORLD attended by around 175,000 people meant that this was a huge deal. Fast forward to Friday 28th of June 2019 when Stormzy takes to the stage. Stormzy is the first Black British solo artist to headline Glastonbury in its 48 year reign. If that wasn’t enough of a record to break he is also at 25 years old, the second youngest solo act to ever headline Glastonbury, the youngest being a 24-year-old David Bowie in 1971. However, Stormzy is used to being the record breaker throughout his career. He was the first grime MC to have a debut album go number 1 in the UK charts and has since had 5 UK top 10s. At a time where a lot of genres of music including rap or grime are blamed for the violence in London, I am glad the Glastonbury organisers gave Stormzy the opportunity to shine.

His stardom may seem random and quick to some but he has definitely been putting in the work from very early on. As a big fan of Stormzy, I have watched him grow from the beginning when he was releasing his videos and unique freestyles on his YouTube channel, which has just recently surpassed 1 million subscribers! . On top of his music, Stormzy is a voice for the youth in regards to saying and speaking on things that are happening in our society. During the Grenfell Fire, he was one of the key people rightly criticizing the government’s approach to the disaster. Stormzy is never afraid to get political in his music or performances and that is something to be admired.

In addition, he has collaborated with Penguin and started a Publishing company called #Merky Books. #Merky Books publishes around two to three books a year and is an outlet for a generation of voices. He holds initiatives for young writers to win competitions and a paid internship. Most recently, they have released “Taking Up Space…The Black Girl’s manifesto for Change” written by Black Cambridge graduates Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi. Stormzy mentions in his latest song ‘Crown’; “I done a scholarship for the kids, they said it’s racist, that’s not anti-white, it’s pro-black”. Stormzy is unapologetically black and is always finding a way to uplift and support his people despite the constant criticism. Stormzy also paved the way for a lot of Black British artists to see how possible it was to chart or to have commercial backing without having to feel the need to dilute themselves.

Knowing all this about Stormzy and having had the privilege of seeing him perform live at his sold out show in the past, I knew this Glastonbury performance was not going to disappoint and I wasn’t wrong. Filled with the most energy I have ever seen him have, his set consisted of his classic songs, a huge choir and backing singers, a very cute little girl with the sass to light up the world, dancers, bikers and so much more. One of my favourite parts of the performance was when Raleigh Ritchie came out and Stormzy had a little piece dedicated to the fact in the ballet world, black people no longer have to stain their shoes to have them in their skin colour as there are now shoes made for our skin colours.

We can’t forget the amazing duet with Chris Martin where they sang ‘Blinded By Your Grace Pt.1’ on the piano. Surely that iconic moment will go down in history. Stormzy always pays homage to those before him through his songs and this time was no different. He brought out two of the hottest young rappers in the UK at the moment, Fredo and Dave, who then performed their hit number 1 song “Funky Friday”. Stormzy later on gave a shout out to all the UK rappers before him and coming up after him. I think the key to the success of Stormzy besides his hard work is the fact he always remembers those before him and those after him. Despite his huge success and despite his co signs from living legends like Jay Z or Ed Sheeran, he never lets that overwhelm him.

Stormzy demonstrates to young black people that you can be yourself and still have people respect you. His confidence is a major lesson that we no longer have to keep quiet and hide away our talent in order to “fit in” or “not stand out”. It is great to see young Black kids growing up with artists like Stormzy doing so well in order to show them anything is possible. We should be at the stage in society where your skin colour should not be holding you back. His message has always been the same and he always gives glory to God. How on earth can you dislike someone like him? To me and to so many others, Stormzy is the chosen one. We are forever thankful that someone like him is representing the young black people. May his success forever reign and we will forever thank him for kicking down the doors for the ones after him.

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Throwback Thursday!

Hey everyone! So today is Thursday which means it’s the perfect day to reminisce on some older songs. Today’s feature contains three songs that are oldies but still goodies and all seem to have one thing in common…New York!

1. Jay- Z – Anything (2000)

I mentioned this song earlier in the week on my instagram story and I have been playing it repeatedly since. I love this song because it is living proof that music can be made from any sample. It also shows how and why Hov is considered one of the greatests with the ability to make a great rap song with a sample from the musical ‘Oliver‘. This was the second time Hov sampled a song featured in a musical after using “Hard Knock Life” from the musical Annie in his 1998 hit “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”. The song could be considered quite motivational as Hov regularly spits words of wisdom throughout the song. It seems as if Hov is reminiscing on the lessons he has learnt from people in his life; “Strive for what you believe in, set goals and you can achieve them”, this one from his mother. The standout lines for me in this song and the words that resonate are; “Don’t listen to your crew, do what works for you”…Standing back from situations gives you the perfect view”. The song feels like Hov is writing an open letter to young people teaching them all the things he has ekarnt from growing up. Have a listen below!

2. Lil Kim – No Matter What They Say (2000)

Following on the theme of life lessons, the second throwback song is by the Queen Lil Kim. The song is song expressing that in life you have to ignore what others may say “Who cares about what they think” and live your own life. The song alone has three different switches in the song. The beginning, the verses Kim provides us with her hard hitting taps while the chorus sounds more playful. The third switch up (my favourite bit) is after the second verse when the song changes tone and Diddy has a small interlude. Kim has a little freestyle where she states that she is “highest, your highest title, numero uno”. There is even a reference in the third verse to “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang. Another rap song using references in such an amazing way. Have a listen to the classic Kim below.

3. The Notorious B.I.G. – Would You Die For Me Ft. Lil Kim & Diddy (1999)

Following on the theme of Kim & Diddy features, this song by one of my favourite rappers is an old school vibe. The beat of this song, Biggies unique flow and wordplay, Kim’s signature voice, & Diddy’s calm but catchy hook all make a match in heaven. I don’t know many other pairings other than Biggie and Kim that can consistently make hits. Check out the song below and get that nostalgic feel!

30Day Music Challenge – Day 14-20

Day 14: (A song played at my wedding);

I love today’s challenge!!! As a Nigerian, music is very important to our culture so song choice is very vital. the song I will be picking is by Nigerian Superstar D’Banj. The song is D’Banj singing about how he has fallen for a woman who has changed him in the best way possible. I have loved this song from the beginning of time and I can guarantee this song will be played.

D’Banj – Fall in Love (2009)

Day 15: A song that is a cover by another Artist;

It’s crazy to think that some covers of songs sometimes sound even better than the original versions. The first song that came to my head would have to be the late Aretha Franklin’s song ‘Respect‘ ( 1965). Most people probably have not even heard the original version of this song by Otis Redding. Needles to say it was Aretha’s version that propelled this song into the hall of fame.

Day 16: One of my favourite songs from a movie;

I’m feeling very motivational at the moment so the first song that comes to mind is an upbeat song! The song is called “Believe” from the film Honey and is from US artist Yolanda Adams, released in 2003. I used to play this song every morning before my exams when I was in school and is still one of my favourite songs. With lyrics such as “You can never give up, you can reach your goals, just talk to your soul and say…
I believe I can (I can)”.
This song is beautiful and the lyrics and sentiments that you should always believe in yourself and keep going are lessons everyone needs to be reminded of.

Day 17: A song that features my favourite artist;

I have more than one favourite artist so I will pick a song that features some of my favourites. Rick Ross and Jay Z are two of my favourite rappers alive. This song is amazing enough to feature the both of them. The common theme between Hov and Ross is that they both have the ability to rap and tell stories that you want to listen to. Both rappers remind me of Biggie and his rapping style. Have a listen below.

Day 18:A song from the year I was born (1993);

Day 19: A song that makes me think about Life;

Again this is hard to pinpoint. Most songs I love make me think about life in different aspects. It could be about love, heartbreak, happiness, sadness, God, family…all aspects of life. A song by Gospel group The Walls Group called ‘Satisfied‘ is an example of a song that made me think about life. The song made me question my priorities in chasing materialstic things when I should be chasing my relationship with God.

Day 20: A song that reminds me of my mum;

Wow!! My mum loves music as much as me so this is hard to pin to one song! My mum always told me whatever you go through in life, know someone else has gone through it already and has a song about it. Any Motown song reminds me of my mum but this song in particular is one her favourites!

Pic Think: Thinking Through Media

As mentioned earlier, a friend of mine has created a great podcast containing philosophical conversations, reviews and commentary on contemporary film, TV Shows, music and literature. I recently took part in a review and discussion on Beyoncé & Jay Z’s joint album “Everything is Love“. Please have a listen to the second part of the podcast to hear our views and commentary.

Feel free to listen to the other episodes. The link for the Podcast Soundcloud is https://m.soundcloud.com/picthink

Here is the episode in question;

Pic Think: Thinking Through Media

A friend of mine has created a great podcast containing philosophical conversations, reviews and commentary on contemporary film, TV Shows, music and literature. I recently took part in a review and discussion on Beyoncé & Jay Z’s joint album “Everything is Love“. Please have a listen to the first part of the podcast to hear our views and commentary.

Feel free to listen to the other episodes. The link for the Podcast Soundcloud is https://m.soundcloud.com/picthink

Here is the episode in question;