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Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr. (born 26 July 1993), better known professionally as Stormzy, is an English rapper.

Stormzy Lagos 2015-2.jpg
Stormzy performing in December 2015
Background information
Birth nameMichael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr.
Also known asWicked Skengman
The Problem[1]
Born (1993-07-26) 26 July 1993 (age 25)
Croydon, London, England
OriginSouth Norwood, London, England
Years active2010–present
Labels#Merky Records
Associated actsRaleigh Ritchie

Stormzy won Best Grime Act at the 2014 and 2015 MOBO Awards and was named as an artist to look out for in the BBC's influential Sound of 2015 list.[2][3] His most successful song to date is the BPI platinum-selling "Shut Up", which was initially released as a freestyle on YouTube. The track was then officially released and got to number eight on the UK Singles Chart after Stormzy launched a campaign[4] to reach Christmas number one. His debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer, was released on 24 February 2017 and was the first grime album to reach number one on the UK Albums Chart.


Early life

Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr.[5][6] was born on 26 July 1993[7][8] in Croydon, London. His mother is Ghanaian,[9] and he is a cousin of rapper Nadia Rose.[10][11] He grew up in South Norwood, London, with his mother, brother, and two sisters. He did not come from a particularly musical household, though he liked music.[12] He attended Harris Academy South Norwood.[13] He began rapping at the age of 11 and would clash with older rappers at his local youth club.[14]

Stormzy has said about his school years, "I was a very naughty child, on the verge of getting expelled, but I wasn't a bad child; everything I did was for my own entertainment. But when I went into an exam I did really well."[15] He said he got six A*s, three As, and five Bs on his GCSEs, but then only achieved a "humbling" ABCDE on his A Levels: "For someone who would cuss in class and was on the verge of being expelled, it was A Levels that showed me that in life you need work ethic."[15] He studied for an apprenticeship in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, and worked in quality assurance for two years at an oil refinery in Southampton, Hampshire.[16][17]

Music career

2014–15: Dreamers Disease and "Shut Up"

After garnering attention on the UK underground music scene via his Wicked Skengman series of freestyles over classic grime beats,[3][18] Stormzy released his debut EP Dreamers Disease independently in July 2014.[19] On 22 October 2014, Stormzy won Best Grime Act at the MOBO awards. Later that month he became the first unsigned rapper to appear on Later with Jools Holland performing the song "Not That Deep" from Dreamers Disease.[3]

In November 2014, Stormzy collaborated with rapper Chip and Shalo on the track "I'm Fine", also appearing in a video for the song.[20]

On 7 January 2015, Stormzy came number 3 in the "BBC Introducing top 5" on Radio 1.[6] In March 2015 he released the single "Know Me From", which entered the UK Singles Chart at number 49. In September 2015, he released a final instalment to his "WickedSkengMan" freestyle series, "WickedSkengMan 4", onto iTunes, along with a studio version of his "Shut Up" freestyle over XTC's Functions On The Low instrumental.[21] The track debuted at number 18 on the UK chart dated 24 September, becoming Stormzy's first top 40 hit and the first ever freestyle to reach the top 40 in the United Kingdom.[22]

On 12 December 2015, Stormzy performed "Shut Up" during British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua's ring-walk for his fight versus Dillian Whyte.[23] Originally, "Shut Up", released as part of the "WickedSkengMan 4" single EP in September 2015, charted at number 59. Since the performance, it began climbing up the iTunes chart and into the top 40. As a result, Stormzy launched a Christmas number 1 campaign to get the song to number 1.[24][25][26] It generated a large amount of support which made it enter the top 10 of the UK Singles Chart on 18 December 2015 at number 8, a week prior to the Christmas number 1 week, succeeding the chart position of "WickedSkengMan 4". It has become Stormzy's highest-charting single.

2016–present: Gang Signs & Prayer

In April 2016, Stormzy dropped the non-album song "Scary" before he went into hiatus.

After a year's hiatus from social media, Stormzy returned in early February 2017 via a series of billboard campaigns across London displaying the hashtag #GSAP 24.02. The album title was announced to be Gang Signs & Prayer. The album was released on 24 February 2017[27][28][29] and debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart on 3 March 2017.[30]


Stormzy describes himself as "a child of grime" influenced by the likes of Wiley and Skepta,[31] but also cites R&B singers such as Frank Ocean and Lauryn Hill as influences on his sound.[18]

Political activism

In May 2016, Stormzy endorsed Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. In an interview with the newspaper The Guardian, he spoke of his admiration for Corbyn's activism.[32]

Concordant with his support of minority groups and cultures, on 28 June 2017, Stormzy tweeted the Welsh word Hiraeth.[33]

In September 2017, after being presented with the Solo Artist of the Year award by Corbyn at the GQ Men of the Year Awards,[34] Stormzy called Theresa May a "paigon", a word used to describe an untrustworthy person.[35] Later the same month, the conservative commentator Iain Dale placed Stormzy at Number 100 on his list of 'The 100 most influential people on the Left',[36] describing him as "Corbs’ favourite Grime artist".

On 21 February 2018, Stormzy performed a freestyle at the Brit Awards, calling out May for her perceived inaction in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire the previous year.[37] The following day, 10 Downing Street issued a statement defending the Prime Minister.[38]


In November 2017, it was revealed that Stormzy had posted a series of messages on Twitter in 2011 that were deemed to be homophobic. These included a tweet where he referred to a gay character on the soap opera EastEnders as a "fucking fag". He also asked another user who was discussing using hair straighteners if they were a "fag" and urged his followers to "put on bbc1 this little black boy is a fucking fag".[39] He later posted a series of tweets, stating:

Publishing imprint

In July 2018 it was announced that Penguin Random House division William Heinemann was to launch a new imprint in partnership with Stormzy, called #Merky Books.[42]




  1. ^ "Stormzy has many god-given nicknames". Capital Xtra.
  2. ^ "Mobo awards 2014: Sam Smith takes home four prizes". The Guardian.
  3. ^ a b c "BBC Music – BBC Sound of, 2015 – Stormzy". BBC.
  4. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (14 December 2015). "Grime MC Stormzy launches campaign for Christmas No 1". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  5. ^ @GRMDAILY (15 May 2017). "Stormzy1 donated a huge amount of money to UK student's Harvard fun" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  6. ^ a b Savage, Mark. "BBC Sound Of 2015: Stormzy interview". BBC News. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  7. ^ "24/02 on Twitter".
  8. ^ "24/02 on Twitter".
  9. ^ Halls, Eleanor (29 June 2017). "Stormzy interview: the man that took grime to number one". GQ.
  10. ^ "Get to know Nadia Rose".
  11. ^ "2017, BBC Music Sound Of - 5th Nadia Rose - BBC Music".
  12. ^ "Stormzy: The full interview". 14 September 2017.
  13. ^ Jameson, Andrew. (15 January 2015) Rapper Stormzy declares he'll be 'the biggest thing to ever come out of Croydon' Archived 29 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Croydon Advertiser. Retrieved on 2016-03-11.
  14. ^ "Stormzy Grew Up On Grime, Now He's Eclipsing His Heroes". Noisey.
  15. ^ a b Helen Thomas (8 March 2016). "Six Things We Learned From Stormzy's Oxford University Talk". NME. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  16. ^ Smyth, David (10 April 2015). "Stormzy: Kanye West-endorsed South London rapper is the new king of grime". Evening Standard.
  17. ^ Thomas, Helen. "Six Things We Learned From Stormzy's Oxford University Talk". NME. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  18. ^ a b "Exclusive Interview: Stormzy – "It Used To Grind My Gears, But Now I Actually Love Rap"".
  19. ^ "New EP: Stormzy 'Dreamers Disease' – MOBO Awards".
  20. ^ "New Music: Chip Feat. Stormzy & Shalo "I'm Fine"". MOBO. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  21. ^ "WickedSkengMan4 – Single by Stormzy". iTunes (UK). Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  22. ^ "Justin Bieber back at No 1 with What Do You Mean?". The Guardian. 18 September 2015.
  23. ^ "Watch Stormzy Perform 'Shut Up' During British Heavyweight Title Boxing Match". Capital XTRA. 14 December 2015.
  24. ^ "Grime MC Stormzy launches campaign for Christmas No 1". The Guardian. 14 December 2015.
  25. ^ "Stormzy And Twitter Want #ShutUpForXmasNo1". Capital XTRA. 14 December 2015.
  26. ^ "Odds on Stormzy getting Christmas Number One cut following 'Shut Up' boxing performance". NME. 14 December 2015.
  27. ^ Jones, Damian (2 February 2017). "Stormzy shares full debut album details". NME.
  28. ^ "Stormzy album GSAP may be 'best of 2017' says 1Xtra's A.Dot". Newsbeat. BBC. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  29. ^ Lee, Morgan (1 February 2017). "Stormzy reveals tracklist for debut album Gang Signs & Prayer". Fact Mag. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  30. ^ Peaks in the United Kingdom:
  31. ^ "STORMZY: The Rise To Fame". Live Mag UK.
  32. ^ Wolfson, Sam (21 May 2016). "Stormzy: 'My man Jeremy Corbyn! I dig what he says'". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  33. ^ Knapman, Joshua (28 June 2017). "Has Stormzy just dropped a hint he's supporting Ed Sheeran in Cardiff?". Wales Online. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  34. ^ Moore, Sam (6 September 2017). "Watch Jeremy Corbyn present Stormzy with best solo artist prize at the GQ Awards". NME. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  35. ^ Ben Beaumont-Thomas (6 September 2017). "Stormzy: 'Theresa May is a paigon'". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  36. ^ Dale, Iain (25 September 2017). "The 100 Most Influential People On The Left: Iain Dale's 2017 List". LBC. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  37. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (21 February 2018). "Stormzy asks 'Theresa May, where's the money for Grenfell?' at Brit awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 February 2018. Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell?” he asked the prime minister, adding that the government “just forgot about Grenfell, you criminals, and you got the cheek to call us savages, you should do some jail time, you should pay some damages, we should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.
  38. ^ Elgot, Jessica (22 February 2018). "No 10 defends PM after Stormzy's Grenfell freestyle at Brits". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  39. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (22 November 2017), Stormzy apologises for unearthed homophobic tweets, The Guardian.
  40. ^ BBC (27 November 2017). "Stormzy apologises for homophobic tweets - BBC Newsbeat". BBC. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  41. ^ Gillett, Francesca (22 November 2017). "Stormzy apologises for 'foul and disgusting' homophobic tweets - London Evening Standard". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  42. ^ Onwuemezi, Natasha, "Stormzy launches #Merky Books with PRH", The Bookseller, 6 July 2018.

External links