Stormzy – This Is What I Mean – Live From Queen Elizabeth Hall With Amazon Music and +44
1 Dec 2022
Last Friday marked the release of the incredible new project ‘This Is What I Mean’, Stormzy’s third studio album to date. Exploring topics surrounding vulnerability, emotional grievance and love – the project is formed by Stormzy’s raw and honest truth – and despite saying the album is for himself and himself only, it stands tall as one of the most heavily relatable and moving bodies of art.
Earlier this week, we had the privilege to attend an immersive showcase of the album – a friends and family event in collaboration with Amazon Music and Plus 44 that included an in depth conversation with Julie Adenuga as well as exclusive performances of some of the most moving art from the project, alongside a live band and choir. Now available to watch via Amazon and live streamed last night on Twitch and Amazon Prime, here’s what happened inside…
The show, hosted by Julie Adenuga sees Stormzy discussing his new era in his own words, talking in depth about the musicality of his album, the creative process, the future and much more along with performances of ‘Firebabe’ ‘Hide & Seek’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ alongside exclusive first performances of ‘Please’, ‘My Presidents Are Black’ and ‘Give It To The Water’ from his new album.
As Julie kicked off the conversation, Stormzy said it felt “weird to perform in front of the mandem”, as famous faces like Wretch 32, Sampha, Mo Gilligan, Zeze Millz, Jazzie B, Avelino, Michael Dapaah and more looked on. He revealed he felt at peace recording this album, with no first album nerves or none of the anticipation he faced around his second album or his Glastonbury headline performance – he seeks no validation with this music and stated it was the most “selfish album” he’d made.
Stormzy talked about taking a break after 2019 to reflect and to grow; that year saw him headline Glastonbury (“a defining moment, the biggest moment for me, I can’t describe the feeling”) and release his second album. He stated he didn’t want to be a “manchild” but work on bettering himself.
Wretch 32 asked how Stormzy whittled down the tracklist, to which he said “music should be testament to feeling – if it felt good, we did it.” He denounced fake freedom and the need to write songs for certain reasons, instead saying “if I want to make a dancehall album, if I want to make a country album, I’ll do it.”
The final question came from British legend Gabrielle, who asked what Stormzy wants his legacy to be. Paraphrasing Zadie Smith, he said he “hopes he contributes to the vast river of British music, culture and art.”
This new project from Stormzy is nothing short of a masterpiece; hearing the Croydon native perform it live with such captivity yet delicacy is something everyone deserves to hear. To the finest detail in every single track, the music created here is the definition of longevity – it will stand the test of time. Credit to Stormzy – he may have taken a hiatus but he has truly come back with a perfect proud representation of Black excellence, innovation and talent.
Watch “This Is What I Mean – Live” here :