Generally speaking, I am deeply uncool: a little too late, far too eager to be nonchalantly edgy, and way too enthusiastic fully to embody insouciance. So thank goodness for the accidental coolness I got simply from being in the vicinity during the birth of grime in the early 2000s. And there is no musician from the genre I’m enjoying at the moment as much as Stormzy.
Stormzy (né Michael Omari), 23, is having A Moment. Like any late adopter, I struggle to remember where I first heard him – probably a freestyle on YouTube – but I do remember him giving an awkward, bashful speech after winning the first Mobo award for best grime act, in 2014.
He’s a striking fellow: 6ft 5in, with a reassuringly deep voice to match, and a beautifully smooth, dark brown complexion. I love his lyrics: he’s unmistakably a Londoner (“I’m so London/I’m so south”), from his references to a Caribbean cafe in Croydon to mentioning the city’s evening paper in the song Standard. Dressed, as he usually is, in a tracksuit, he cheekily talks down terrified pearl-clutchers on WickedSkengman4: “Everybody calm down, it’s a tracksuit/What the fuck, man? I ain’t gonna stab you.” Charmingly, he sounds like boys I grew up with – my youngest brother and his friends.
On Twitter and Snapchat, Stormzy is chatty and funny: being sweet on his girlfriend, Maya Jama, riffing on UK politics (he expressed support for Corbyn) or talking about his Christianity. It’s delightful. I can’t stop playing his No 1 debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer, on which he covers mental health, his mum, love and faith. It’s a showcase of pure talent, and I’m all in.