Photo: Cover art for Stormzy’s ‘This Is What I Mean’
  /  11.25.2022

Today (Nov. 25), Stormzy marks his big return with This Is What I Mean, a 12-song body of work with additional assists from Sampha, Black Sherif, India.Arie, Ms Banks, Ayra Starr, Jacob Collier, and more. The project was led by the singles “Hide & Seek” and “Firebabe.”

What immediately became clear in the weeks leading up to the album’s release was Stormzy’s decision to eschew what was expected from a musical standpoint. Taking to Instagram, he revealed his inspiration to expand his sound came from a certain Odd Future alum:

“When Tyler, the Creator released the masterpiece that is IGOR, he shared a message with it, and I wanted to do the same, but I was hesitant. Mainly because I would love for my music to do all the talking, but I thought I’d share this message anyway.”

He continued: “I’m never ever purposely trying to defy genres or go against the grain… People [have] been tryna box me in for years, but I hope this chapter at least makes my biggest critic say, ‘Yes, he’s s**t, but he loves music, and I guess he’s gonna do whatever he likes.'”

This Is What I Mean arrives three years after the critically acclaimed sophomore offering Heavy Is the Head, which contained 16 songs and contributions from Headie One Tiana Major9, Yebba, H.E.R., Aitch, Ed Sheeran, and Burna Boy. That release soared to the top of the UK Albums Chart and later earned Stormzy a platinum certification. Since then, the Croydon talent continued to make appearances on notable drops like Tion Wayne’s “I Dunno,” Loski’s “Flavour,” Ghetts’ “Skengman,” Dave’s “Clash,” and Knucks’ “Die Hard.” Back in September, he unveiled the fiery “Mel Made Me Do It,” a seven-minute reminder for anyone who forgot Stormzy’s skills as an emcee. Press play on This Is What I Mean below.

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