After smashing it at Glastonbury 2019, Stormzy’s second album has been highly-anticipated. Heavy Is The Head landed earlier this month, near the UK election. The timing wasn’t planned and yet the release date was fitting for the politically-charged album coming from the spokesperson of a generation.
When it comes to Stormzy, his music and political activism are inseparable. His Glastonbury set peaked with the crowd and he has since established a scholarship fund for black students at Cambridge University. Stormzy has become a champion for minority voices and this is the overriding theme of his new album. The voice that runs through is one that will no longer tolerate the marginalization of black artists in the UK. In “Superheroes,” Stormzy celebrates the success of his peers, championing underrepresented voices.
Elsewhere in the album, Stormzy challenges his newfound status as the voice of young black men. “Crown” references the album’s title “Heavy Is The Head” and Stormzy counts his blessings but expresses the burden of leading a generation. He refers to his activism at the BRITS: “You can’t hold me down, I still cope / Rain falling down at the BRIT’s, I’m still soaked.” In “Audacity”, he wonders “How the hell did I buss so fast?” questioning whether he is comfortable with being idolized by so many.
Throughout the album, Stormzy makes references to his career highlights, frequently referring back to his set at Glastonbury. As well as shining a light on UK society, he turns the light in on himself. What is arguably most remarkable about the record is that the album is genuinely enjoyable to listen to. There are witty, fun moments and while Stormzy raises some deadly earnest political points, he also doesn’t take himself entirely seriously. The album is not about Stormzy and his crown. It is a reminder that he is part of something bigger. Again, Stormzy pays homage to the artists that have come before him and those around him doing great things.
Overall, Heavy Is The Head is a lyrically brilliant, stylistically impressive, bold and daring record. It never gets dull and Stormzy fires shots from all angles. This is an album from a man on the verge of something heroic. And we are hooked.