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This Is What I Mean Denzil Bell , November 30th, 2022 08:42

The Croydon-born MC takes a step away from his grime roots with latest album, This Is What I Mean

The title, This is What I Mean can be interpreted in multiple ways. First, Stormzy has been relatively quiet on the music front since releasing his second album at the end of 2019. Just as he did before with the single ‘Mel Made Me Do It’, the album can be seen as a letter of intent, telling us what he’s been going through over the last couple of years. 

Additionally, around the time of the Heavy is the Head project, Stormzy went through a very public break up with Maya Jama, which he recently said in a Louis Theroux interview was tough on him to deal with. So it could be suggested that this letter of intent is addressed to Jama. Perhaps this is Stormzy saying everything he wants to say to her, but can’t due to the separation. 

This can be heard on songs like ‘Fire + Water’, where he almost breaks into a ballad singing, “If your love is my holy water, girl, just let me drown”, a lyric apparently referring to his intense previous relationship.

During these hard times, Stormzy recently said he really dipped into his Christian faith and even holds weekly bible studies sessions at his house. This spiritual aspect is really felt on tracks such as ‘Holy Spirit’, ‘Sampha’s Plea’ and ‘Please’. The track ‘Please’ is a strong single on the tape, finding the rapper at his most vulnerable. It’s almost like a more grown-up response to the outro, ‘Lay Me Bare’, from Stormzy’s debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer

On ‘Lay Me Bare’ he spewed anger-filled lyrics aimed at his father for leaving his family and being absent from Stormzy’s life. But during the six years since that project, the personal struggles he has gone through have caused him to have empathy for his father. ‘Please’ serves as an olive branch of forgiveness, where he croons, “Please, Lord, give me the strength to forgive my dad for he is flawed and so am I, so who am I to not, to not forgive a man who tries, I see his soul, I know it cries.” 

Some would say this whole mature, more singer-songwriter leaning lane that Stormzy is driving down is far from the grimey content that first made him a superstar. But the more important question to ask is, did he execute what he set out to do and tell us what he really means? This ego-stripped project may not be to the liking of some of his original grime fans. But at this stage, Stormzy is aiming to break boundaries both materially and spiritually. He achieves both on this new album.