Stormzy Talks Racism, Diversity And More As He Covers TIME Magazine
Ghanaian-British rapper, Stormzy is part of Time magazine Next Generation Leaders issue.
Born Michael Omari but better known as Stormzy, he is considered one of Britain’s most successful musicians and an ambassador for grime, a genre of music that emerged from the streets of multicultural London in the early 2000s and that is characterized by frenetic urgency.
In the cover feature, the “Shut Up” singer talks to TIME about racism, the rap culture in the UK and how he became one of the leading voices of change in the industry. Of headlining Glastonbury, he says,
“For the first time ever in my life, maybe in my career, I’ve achieved something and it’s given me perfect peace.”
At Glastonbury, Stormzy brought with him black gospel singers and ballet dancers, and snippets of speeches from a black British politician and blackBritish author.
“I wanted it to be the pinnacle of my career, my defining moment,” Stormzy says.
On his success story, TIME writes about Stormzy first working odd jobs at the age of 20. The American publication reads:
“Success didn’t come overnight. At 20, he got a job on an oil rig in the English port city of Southampton, and he remembers writing lyrics on Post-it notes while working. Within a year he made the decision to quit his job and pursue music full-time. It was 2014. “I don’t remember a crazy feeling of fear,” he says. “I remember feeling very sure that I’m a good MC. I didn’t ever feel stuck or at a dead end.”
Now riding the crest of his fame, Stormzy is determined not to pull the ladder up behind him. Instead, he is dedicating himself to bringing greater visibility to a wider community of black musicians, artists and creators in Britain.
Stormzy’s commitment to collectivism goes beyond shouting out his fellow grime artists on Glastonbury’s main stage. In the past two years, alongside his work in music, he has launched Merky Books, a publishing imprint with Penguin Random House U.K., as well as partnering with Cambridge University to launch the Stormzy Scholarship, funding the tuition fees and living costs of two black students during their degree studies.
“There’s a whole side of blackness and black Britishness that doesn’t often fall under the kind of umbrella term that everyone uses of ‘black culture,’” he says. “It’s like black culture almost becomes music, acting, sports and just kind of celebrity and whatever. I was like, Yo, there’s theater, there’s literature, books, there’s ballet.”
Click here to read the full feature in Time magazine.