Six months on from his now-iconic Glastonbury performance, Stormzy revealed that his next album ‘Heavy Is The Head’ drops a day after the general election results. It could not come at a more appropriate time.
An outspoken activist both online and at his concerts, Stormzy has never shied away from calling out the Tory government or the inaction taken on the Grenfell disaster. In true Stormzy fashion, his upcoming album may feature political bars and a more vulnerable look at himself as he’s risen to be a global star. In the meantime, the syrupy energy of his latest single ‘Own It’, which features Ed Sheeran and Afrobeat star Burna Boy, is sure to trickle down into clubs, bars and parties for the rest of the year.
“Lighters up, lighters up, one time, lighters up / Pulled up in the party, when you saw me, I was lightin’ up my J’ / So go ahead and brighten up my day / Lighters in the air when you lighting up the rave,” Stormzy rap beneath an irresistible beat. It sets the tone for the song: a swinging, unstoppable drum groove is layered underneath a myriad of instruments warped with careful restraint to induce euphoria in the listener.
Burna Boy chorus sings on the chorus, “Own it / Girl, you just own it / ‘Cause your body’s on fire / Show me how to control it / And go hit your spliff and get higher / Girl, I love how you roll it / I put my hand there, hold it / I’ma be right by ya”. His distinctive throaty vocals are unmistakable as he elevates the song to anthemic heights. The song’s only real fault is that it cries for more of the Nigerian pop star, who is relegated to ad-libs and the chorus.
‘Own It’ is Stormzy’s third collaboration with Ed Sheeran – after the ‘Shape of You Remix’ and ‘Take Me Back to London’ – and, while Sheeran’s verse is passable, it does nothing to excite with rhymes such as “Right now we never looked better / Forget our friends, girl, I love it when we chill together / And ain’t nobody gonna feel what we feel together /She want a kiss, I, I want another one”.
Stormzy’s latest single may not hit as hard as ‘Wiley Flow’ or the supremely infectious ‘Vossi Bop’, but ‘Own It’ stakes a certain claim in the current cultural context. In the midst of a cold, gloomy winter coupled with an ongoing divisive general election, the song is an injection of much-needed joy.