Stormzy Is Here To Remove The Labels Put On Him As A Rapper

Plus, 5 other major takeaways from the musician’s intimate TV special with Trevor Nelson.

Stormzy, star of BBC's 'A Stormzy Special', in 2022
David M. Benett/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Since dropping his iconic 10-minute music video, “Mel Made Me Do It,” in September, Stormzy has been teasing fans with what they can look forward to on his third studio album, This Is What I Mean. Ahead of its release on Nov. 25, BBC One aired A Stormzy Special, where the 29-year-old rapper sat down with DJ legend Trevor Nelson, to talk more about his artistry and upcoming album. Perhaps his most vulnerable album yet, This Is What I Mean is set to show more of a singing Stormzy, with the artist already dropping hints of this through the release of soulful songs like “Hide & Seek” and “Firebabe.”

From becoming the first Black solo British headliner at Glastonbury Festival in 2019 to this year collecting a joint Rated Award with fellow rapper Dave, the Brit Award winner has a firm standing on the road to success.

As well as performing tracks from This Is What I Mean, Stormzy also performed some of his classic material, including “Crown,” on the BBC programme. As well as explaining the lyrics behind some of his songs, the musician also talked about his good friend Adele and debunking labels put on him as an artist.

Below, see the biggest takeaways from A Stormzy Special.

Stormzy Prioritises His Friendship With Adele Over Making Music With Her

Stormzy and Adele first met in 2017 at the “Hello” singer’s Brixton Academy gig. Since then, the Londoners struck up a friendship that has since blossomed with the two spending time in Jamaica in the summer of 2020. Speaking on why Adele is so special to him, Stormzy shared: “She has this gift of a stunning, beautiful moving voice and phenomenal pen.”

But when it comes to making songs with his musician friends, he “would be fine to never make music with any of them. However, of course, if I could get a hook…” He then went on to suggest he’d be open to the idea of collaborating with Adele.

He’s Not A Fan Of Labels

Although primarily known for being a rapper, it’s clear that This Is What I Mean has an increased presence of Stormzy singing. “I would love to just be known as an artist who does whatever it is in his spirit in that moment of time,” he explained. He later went on to say that he’s not here to be a “token Black artist” and wants to “denounce this whole notion that a young Black man and a young Black rapper is just angry or is just here to… No. We like R&B, we like soul, we like Gospel, we like Whitney, we like Adele.”

He’s Glad His Singing Voice Has Improved

In 2014, a 21-year-old Stormzy performed a vocal mashup of some of his favourite songs on BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Live Lounge. Speaking about this experience with Nelson, the now 29-year-old reflected on this experience and said: “Thank God my singing voice has improved a lot since then because when I listen to that, my ears bleed.”

He May Have Called Maya Jama To Give Her A Heads Up

The love song “Hide & Seek” had a lot of people talking, especially with growing curiosity around who the song might be about or inspired by. The last public relationship Stormzy was linked to was Maya Jama, and so, many have suggested the cryptic lyrics are about her and their relationship.

When asked whether he extends a call to someone he is talking about in a song like that, the artist said: “I think to some degree, there’s a… level of courtesy that I feel like sometimes you have to extend just to say like, ‘yo, like, this is happening.’”

Whitney Houston Is One Of His Fave Singers Of All Time

Sharing who he leans on musically, Stormzy listed several singers that influence him and his work. The list included Stevie Wonder, Adele, Frank Ocean, Cleo Sol, and Lauryn Hill. But stopping at Whitney Houston, the singer emphasised, “Whitney is my GOAT GOAT.” He went on to explain that it’s because of “the feeling” she gives him. “I only judge music on the precedent of how it makes me feel in my spirit.”

He Made A “Big Chunk” Of The Album In Essex

Explaining the somewhat fairytale way he recorded “a big chunk of the album” at Osea Island in Essex, Stormzy shared: “There’s a [residential] studio there and you can only get onto the island at specific times because there’s a causeway and the tide comes in.” He continued, “I just went there with a bunch of incredible musicians and songwriters… and yeah, we just created… it was everything I dreamed of.”