As UK rap and grime slowly makes headway in the U.S., the genres are giving stateside listeners a new perspective on what it is to grow up Black in Europe, particularly in England. The Black European experience appears to be very similar to what Americans deal with, including the perils of growing up in the inner city, the strength that comes from surviving in the streets, and the systemic racism that they encounter on a daily basis.
Stormzy, born Michael Owuo Jr., is one of the biggest grime/UK rap artists out right now, and he is emerging as one of the leaders of the movement to make it a worldwide phenomenon. His latest album, Gang Signs And Prayer, was the first ever grime album to hit number one on the UK albums chart earlier this year, and has gained the respect of his fellow British artists across all genres of music, Adele included.
Stormzy debuted what many consider his most creative project to date on Tuesday (September 26), a 15-minute mini-movie built on the themes explored in Gang Signs And Prayer. The film focuses on Thomas, a London youth who faces the trials of the London streets. Directed by past collaborator Rollo Jackson, the movie uses four songs from the album as a backdrop to the action: “Return Of The Rucksack,” “Bad Boys,” “Mr Skeng,” and “100 Bags.” The hard-hitting soundtrack paired with the sharp cinematography gives loyal fans and newcomers a fresh perspective on Stormzy’s album.