Who Is Stormzy? The English Rapper Won Big at the 2018 Brit Awards
While scanning through the list of winners for Wednesday's Brit Awards — the U.K. equivalent of the Grammys — American music fans may have been surprised to find an artist by the name of Stormzy. The English rapper is well known in his home country (he even beat out chart behemeoth Ed Sheeran for Best British Male Solo Artist), but has yet to build the same kind of audience in the U.S. So just who is the British breakout?
The 24-year-old South Londoner first garnered attention within the UK underground scene for his 2015 freestyle series, #WickedSkengman, quickly building a reputation for sharp-witted battle rap and free-flowing rhymes. When his 2015 single "Shut Up" went viral, he was soon hailed as a grime messiah, helping to push the genre out of the UK fringe and into the mainstream. Not only did the song became Stormzy's first top 40 hit, but it broke record as the first-ever freestyle to reach the top 40 in the UK. The accompanying video is an apt measure of his impact: It currently holds over 73 million views on YouTube.
In 2016, Stormzy shared "Scary" before stepping back for a near year-long hiatus (during which time he nabbed a co-sign from Adele, who shouted him out on tour). He returned in February 2017 to announce his debut studio album, Gang Signs & Prayer, which he released later that month. The record debuted at No.1 on the UK albums chart, while each of its 16 tracks appeared in the top 100 in a single week; Stormzy was only the fourth artist to achieve the feat, following Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, and The Weeknd. The project also drew in widespread critical praise.
Stormzy has yet to announce a proper follow-up, but teased that a new project was "coming soon" last fall. And if his night at the Brit Awards is any indication, his ascension has only begun.
7 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Cardi B