Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr. (born 25 July 1993), known professionally as Stormzy, is a British rapper. In 2014, he gained attention on the UK underground music scene through his Wicked Skengman series of freestyles over classic grime beats.
|Birth name||Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr.|
|Also known as||Wicked Skengman|
|Born||25 July 1993|
Croydon, London, England
|Origin||Norbury, London, England|
Stormzy's song "Shut Up", which was initially released as a freestyle on YouTube, became popular and peaked at number eight on the UK Singles Chart after he launched a campaign to reach Christmas number one. 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 Sound of 2015 list. His debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer (2017), was the first grime album to reach number one on the UK Albums Chart and won British Album of the Year at the 2018 Brit Awards. In 2019, Stormzy achieved his first UK number-one single with "Vossi Bop" and his headline appearance at the 2019 Glastonbury Festival was widely praised; he wore a Union Jack stab vest designed by Banksy, in light of the rise in knife crime in London. His second album, Heavy Is the Head, was released on 13 December 2019.
Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr. was born on 25 July 1993 in Croydon, London. His mother is Ghanaian, and he is a cousin of rapper Nadia Rose. He grew up in South Norwood, London, with his mother, brother, and two sisters. Stormzy did not come from a particularly musical household, though he liked music. He attended Stanley Tech South Norwood. He began rapping at the age of 11 and would clash with older rappers at his local youth club.
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." 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." He studied for an apprenticeship in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, and worked in quality assurance for two years at an oil refinery in Southampton, Hampshire.
2014–2015: 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, Stormzy released his debut EP Dreamers Disease independently in July 2014. 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.
On 7 January 2015, Stormzy came number 3 in the "BBC Introducing top 5" on Radio 1. 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. 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.
On 12 December 2015, Stormzy performed "Shut Up" during British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua's ring-walk for his fight versus Dillian Whyte. 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. 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".
2016–present: Gang Signs & Prayer, Glastonbury and Heavy Is the Head
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 and debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart on 3 March 2017.
Stormzy's headline appearance on the Pyramid Stage at the 2019 Glastonbury Festival was widely praised. The performance featured a speech by the politician David Lammy that discussed the proportion of black and minority ethnic people in the British criminal justice system and, during "Vossi Bop", Stormzy encouraged the audience to join him in chanting "Fuck the Government and fuck Boris" - the latter a reference to former London Mayor Boris Johnson's Conservative Party leadership campaign. The show included guest appearances by dance group Black Ballet and pop singer Chris Martin. Stormzy wore a Union Jack stab vest designed by the artist Banksy, which was widely perceived as a comment on the rise in knife crime in London.
He has reached number one on the UK Singles Chart four times; firstly as part of "Artists for Grenfell" on 23 June 2017 with "Bridge Over Troubled Water", secondly with his own solo single "Vossi Bop", which debuted at number one upon its entry, ahead of "Me!" by Taylor Swift featuring Brendon Urie by some 500 combined sales, thirdly with his collaboration with Burna Boy and Ed Sheeran, "Own It" and fourthly with as a featured artist on the Ed Sheeran single "Take Me Back to London". Stormzy later released the singles "Crown", "Sounds of the Skeng" and "Wiley Flow", before announcing his second album, Heavy Is the Head, for release on 13 December 2019. In the 2020 action-adventure game Watch Dogs: Legion, Stormzy appears as a fictionalized version of himself, offering and a mission in which his character plays the track Rainfall from Heavy is the Head. The video for Rainfall appears in the mission, showing Stormzy's motion capture performance over locations, graphics, and the fictionalized future London setting of the game. Stormzy was recognised for both his contributions to music and his activism, landing him at number 5 in the Top 10 of the annual Powerlist in 2020, with an estimated net worth of £20 million in 2020. Heavy is the Head was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize 2020. This was the second nomination in his career. In the Powerlist 2021 he ranked as the third most influential Black Briton, for his advocacy against racial injustice and philanthropy, pledging £10 million to charities 
Stormzy describes himself as "a child of grime" influenced by the likes of Lethal Bizzle, Bruza, D Double E and Flirta D, but also cites R&B singers such as Frank Ocean and Lauryn Hill as influences on his sound.
On 24 June 2017, Stormzy performed a chant of "Oh, Jeremy Corbyn" to the tune of The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" on the Other Stage at the Glastonbury Festival. He also performed a rap he had written for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, telling the festivalgoers to demand that the authorities "tell the... truth" and for the "Government to be held accountable". In September of that year, after being presented with the Solo Artist of the Year award by Corbyn at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, Stormzy called Prime Minister Theresa May a "paigon", a Jamaican Patois word used to describe an untrustworthy person.
On 21 February 2018, Stormzy performed a freestyle at the Brit Awards, calling out May for her inaction in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire the previous year. The following day, 10 Downing Street issued a statement defending the Prime Minister.
In November 2019, along with other musicians, Stormzy endorsed Corbyn in the 2019 UK general election with a call to end austerity. He also said "people led change can be possible under a Jeremy Corbyn Labour government". He described the Labour leader as "the first man in a position of power who is committed to giving the power back to the people" and branded Boris Johnson "a sinister man". In the aftermath of the George Floyd protests, Stormzy issued a statement via his label, that he plans to donate £1 million a year for 10 years to charities, organisations and movements that are committed to fight racial inequality, justice reform and black empowerment in the United Kingdom. In an interview with the BBC, Stormzy said, "Black people have been playing on an uneven field for far too long and this pledge is a continuation in the fight to finally try and even it".
Stormzy is a Christian, on the BBC's Christmas Day lineup in 2019 he read a passage from the Gospel of Luke. Stormzy was previously involved in a long-term relationship with presenter Maya Jama.
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". He later posted a series of tweets, stating:
I said some foul and offensive things whilst tweeting years ago at a time when I was young and proudly ignorant. Very hurtful and discriminative views that I've unlearned as I've grown up and become a man. The comments I made were unacceptable and disgusting, full stop. Comments that I regret and to everyone I've offended, I am sorry, these are attitudes I've left in the past... I take responsibility for my mistakes and hope you can understand that my younger self doesn't reflect who I am today. Again, I'm sorry to everyone I've offended. To the LGBQT community and my supporters and friends, my deepest apologies.
He also attracted controversy on 7 October 2020, when grime artist Chip released a video of Stormzy and several others at Chip's house in June of that year. The video was posted on Twitter and Instagram captioned "June... When you get sent a video of Stormzy & friends tryna run up on your house." The event resulted in the police being called. Chip deleted the video within a few hours, but Stormzy was criticized for causing a heated argument with Chip's family and refusing to leave the building. The altercation was allegedly in response to a perceived diss by Chip on the track Waze.
Stormzy has funded the 'Stormzy Scholarship for Black UK Students' at the University of Cambridge which covers tuition costs for two students and maintenance grants for up to four years. He had previously approached the University of Oxford who "didn't want to get involved", according to him.
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. The imprint launched with Stormzy's first book, Rise Up, in autumn 2018, followed by Taking Up Space: The Black Girl's Manifesto for Change by Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi in summer 2019. That Reminds Me, a novel in verse by Derek Owusu, is the most recent, released in November 2019.
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