Stormzy performing at the Beat 99.9 FM end-of-year concert in Lagos, Nigeria, in December 2015
|Birth name||Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr.|
|Also known as||
|Born||26 July 1993|
|Origin||Croydon, London, England|
|Associated acts||Raleigh Ritchie|
Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr. (born 26 July 1993), better known by his stage name Stormzy, is an English rapper. He won Best Grime Act at the 2014 and 2015 MOBO Awards and was named as an artist to look out for in the BBC's influential Sound of 2015 list. His most successful song to date is the BPI platinum-selling "Shut Up", which was initially released as a freestyle on YouTube. The track was then officially released and got to number eight on the UK Singles Chart after Stormzy launched a campaign to reach Christmas number one.
Stormzy originates from Thornton Heath, London, in South London with his mum, brother and two sisters, Stormzy didn’t come from a particularly musical household, though he liked music. He attended Harris Academy South Norwood. He is of Ghanaian descent. He began rapping at the age of 11 and would clash with older rappers at his local youth club. During a 2016 Q&A session at Oxford University, Stormzy said about his school years, "I was a very naughty child, on the verge of getting expelled, but I wasn't a bad child; everything I did was for my own entertainment. But when I went into an exam I did really well." He said he got six A*s, three As and five Bs at GCSE, but then only achieved a "humbling" ABCDE at A-Level: "For someone who would cuss in class and was on the verge of being expelled, it was A-Levels that showed me that in life you need work ethic." Before focusing on his music full-time, he studied for an apprenticeship in Leamington Spa and worked in quality assurance for two years at an oil refinery in Southampton. Stormzy is the cousin of BBC Sound of 2017 nominee Nadia Rose.
After garnering attention on the UK underground music scene via his Wicked Skengman series of freestyles over classic grime beats, Stormzy released his debut EP Dreamers Disease independently in July 2014. On 22 October 2014, Stormzy won Best Grime Act at the MOBO awards. Later that month he became the first unsigned rapper to appear on Later with Jools Holland performing the song "Not That Deep" from Dreamers Disease.
On 7 January 2015, Stormzy came number 3 in the "BBC Introducing top 5" on Radio 1. In March 2015 he released the single "Know Me From", which entered the UK Singles Chart at number 49. In September 2015, he released a final instalment to his "WickedSkengMan" freestyle series, "WickedSkengMan 4", onto iTunes, along with a studio version of his "Shut Up" freestyle over XTC's Functions On The Low instrumental. The track debuted at number 18 on the UK chart dated 24 September, becoming Stormzy's first top 40 hit and the first ever freestyle to reach the top 40 in the United Kingdom.
On 12 December 2015, Stormzy performed "Shut Up" during British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua's ring-walk for his fight versus Dillian Whyte. Originally, "Shut Up", released as part of the "WickedSkengMan 4" single EP in September 2015, charted at number 59. Since the performance, it began climbing up the iTunes chart and into the top 40. As a result, Stormzy launched a Christmas number 1 campaign to get the song to number 1. It generated a large amount of support which made it enter the top 10 of the UK Singles Chart on 18 December 2015 at number 8, a week prior to the Christmas number 1 week, succeeding the chart position of "WickedSkengMan 4". It has become Stormzy's highest-charting single.
In April 2016, Stormzy dropped the non-album song "Scary" before he went into hiatus.
After a year's hiatus from social media, Stormzy returned in early February 2017 via a series of billboard campaigns across London displaying the hashtag #GSAP 24.02. The album title was announced to be Gang Signs & Prayer. The album was released on 24 February 2017 and debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart on 3 March 2017.
In September 2017, after being presented with the Solo Artist of the Year award by Corbyn at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, Stormzy called Theresa May a "paigon", a word used to describe an untrustworthy person. Later the same month, the conservative commentator Iain Dale placed Stormzy at Number 100 on his list of 'The 100 most influential people on the Left', describing him as "Corbs’ favourite Grime artist".
On 21 February 2018, Stormzy performed a freestyle at the Brit Awards, calling out May for her perceived inaction in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire the previous year. The following day, 10 Downing Street issued a statement defending the Prime Minister.
In November 2017, it was revealed that Stormzy had posted a series of messages on Twitter in 2011 that were deemed to be homophobic. These included a tweet where he referred to a gay character on the soap opera EastEnders as a "fucking fag". He also asked another user who was discussing using hair straighteners "are you a fag?" and urged his followers to "Put on bbc1 this little black boy is a fucking fag".
Stormzy later posted a series of repentant tweets, saying: “I said some foul and offensive things whilst tweeting years ago at a time when I was young and proudly ignorant. Very hurtful and discriminative views that I’ve unlearned as I’ve grown up and become a man... The comments I made were unacceptable and disgusting, full stop. Comments that I regret and to everyone I’ve offended, I am sorry, these are attitudes I’ve left in the past... I take responsibility for my mistakes and hope you can understand that my younger self doesn’t reflect who I am today. Again, I’m sorry to everyone I’ve offended. To the LGBQT community and my supporters and friends, my deepest apologies.”
Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell?” he asked the prime minister, adding that the government “just forgot about Grenfell, you criminals, and you got the cheek to call us savages, you should do some jail time, you should pay some damages, we should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.
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