Further to achieving the #1 position last month with his critically acclaimed, third album ‘This Is What I Mean’, British musician Stormzy has opened 2023 with an alluring, stripped back variation of ‘Hide & Seek’ – the top 10 single taken from the album – featuring FLO; Having just been announced as Radio 1’s Sound Of 2023 via a video clip by Stormzy himself, FLO are the first group to ever win both the BRIT Rising Star and BBC’s Sound Of poll, less than a year after the release of their viral debut single “Cardboard Box”.
Produced by British producer AOD, the alternative version features a brand new verse courtesy of FLO, offering up a delicate and emotive sound, allowing inner peace to take center stage throughout the soulful and ethereal adaptation. To date, the original version of ‘Hide & Seek’ has achieved over 60 million global streams, is certified Silver in the UK and accomplished 7 consecutive weeks in the UK top 10!
Over the course of his expansive, heartfelt and defiantly sprawling #1 album, the BRIT and Ivor Novello award-winning, Stormzy delivered an undeniable classic; effortlessly condensing any number of disparate styles and genres into music which bravely broaches any gap between modern Black British music, soul and hip-hop.
A bold and courageous leap forward from his critically acclaimed previous two #1 records, ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’ and ‘Heavy Is The Head’, this isn’t music simply for the pop charts but rather, an intimate and sincere love letter to music. He speaks on forgiving his absent father on the mellifluous ‘Please’ and refers to his challenges with paranoia, depression and self-doubt on penultimate track, ‘I Got My Smile Back’ – which also features a guest vocal from the incomparable India.Arie. It’s a record which showcases intensely personal and lyrical themes which in turn lay bare
the vulnerabilities, regret, frailties, healing, joy and triumph in a manner and to an extent that reframes the notion of what rap artists traditionally might do and be.
The confidence which drove the album stemmed from a deeper and far more spiritual place than we have seen from Stormzy previously. For all the success and awards that he has accrued during his brief, meteoric career, the lockdown that ensued from the coronavirus pandemic gave him one commodity he’d long lacked: time. And thanks to his sense of accomplishment following Glastonbury he was, for the first time, in a position to make the most of it.
Much of the creative energy that shaped the album emerged from a Stormzy music camp in Osea Island – a remote island in the Essex estuary that’s only accessible via a Roman Causeway for four hours a day at low tide. Surrounded by leading-edge producers and musicians each and every morning they would eat and pray together and then spend the rest of the time driven to creative heights by each other’s talents. “When you hear about music camps they always sound intense and sombre,” says Stormzy. “”People saying: “We need to make an album.” “We need to make some hit records.” But this felt beautifully free. We’re all musicians but we weren’t always doing music. Some days we played football or walked around taking pictures. And the bi-product to that was very beautiful music. Because when you marry that ethos with world class musicians and the best producers, writers and artists in the world, and we’re in one space, that’s a recipe for something that no one can really imagine. You can’t even calculate what that’s going to come up with. And it came up with a big chunk of this album.”
The net result is that while ‘This Is What I Mean’ sounds very much like Stormzy, it sounds like no Stormzy album you have ever heard before.
LISTEN/DOWNLOAD ‘HIDE & SEEK’ REMIX FEATURING FLO HERE
‘THIS IS WHAT I MEAN’ – OUT NOW
‘THIS IS WHAT I MEAN’ TRACK-LISTING:
1. Fire + Water
2. This Is What I Mean
5. Need You
6. Hide & Seek
7. My Presidents Are Black
8. Sampha’s Plea
9. Holy Spirit
10. Bad Blood
11. I Got My Smile Back
12. Give It To The Water