Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Stormzy – Crown

Heavy is the controversy….


Thomas Inskeep: Stormzy is fucking great, but when he goes the “inspirational” route (which for him seems to always involve gospel), he’s not nearly as interesting. He’s like the UK Jay-Z, but this is his “Empire State of Mind,” and nobody needs that. This isn’t terrible, but it’s sure as hell dull.

Maxwell Cavaseno: Y’know, I liked Stormzy a lot better when his personality was limited to xeroxes of Skepta and Dizzee Rascal instead of Dave and Chance the Rapper. His singing voice is pretty charmless, a baffling decision to continuously indulge, the production feels very Eminem album track, and the general notion of “I’ve made it now and I’m dealing with the pressure” is always tired and silly without any sort of specificity and character to it. A weirdly flat and defeated note to what’s supposed to be glorious and inspiring.

Alfred Soto: You know it’s ruminative because Stormzy sings it, employs a choir, questions his relationship to his fans, and quotes Henry IV

Scott Mildenhall: It’s an interesting point of Stormzy’s stardom: “Blinded By Your Grace” isn’t quite what most people come to his music for, yet it is for Heart FM and Radio 2. That perhaps fuels the release of this as a counterpart to “Vossi Bop,” a relatively uncontroversial meditation that rarely digs deep. Even the more pointed moments are mostly unseasoned grist to the mill of breakfast TV hot air balloons, and as cheering as it is when bellowed back by tens of thousands in a field, the timely Boris-baiting should not and does not feel revolutionary. All that seems to matter is that it sounds appealing on the radio — admittedly, it stands out — and that Stormzy preaches to the choir and the prosecution all at once. So a meditation is all it has to be.

Ian Mathers: Imperial phase, innit?

Tim de Reuse: There are a couple of un-poetic lines (the chorus, in particular, is disappointingly nonspecific), but on the whole it nails the weariness that comes from having spent too long with too many things to be angry about. Uncertain about his status as the “voice of the young black youth” and frustrated with the inanity that wears down his will to do good, he just barely manages to end the second verse on a determined note — hell, that captures the mood of my late-2010s experience pretty damn well!

Will Rivitz: I know people tend to slag Christian rap as a toothless husk that has been anemic almost as consistently as its progenitor has been vibrant, but give the prosthelytizers some credit: hip-hop is really, really hard to translate into rigidly religious uplift. Case in point: absolutely everything Stormzy’s done since grime went out of style a few years ago, the Garage Band production of “Crown” a nadir impressive only in how low it dips below every other nadir he’s hit before this. If someone once so essential can sound this dreadful, those in the same vein who who top out at solidly mediocre have earned my utmost respect. 

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