Beyond the tangle of train tracks, I’m waiting in line, shivering with chill and nervous anticipation for Stormzy’s surprise showing at BoxPark.
Miles away from the Pyramid Stage and those arid, dog days of summer on Worthy Farm, here in the rumble and rain of East Croydon – Stormzy does not disappoint. I close my eyes and, tantalisingly, a few bars of ‘Still Disappointed’ reverberate in between my ears.
Walking home by the Thames that evening, I’m already thinking about his hotly anticipated H.I.T.H. (Heavy is the Head) World Tour stop at the O2 Arena in September.
It’s midweek now and the newspapers are screaming with clickbait editorial, not about Stormzy’s philanthropic work, not about how he lingered at Boxpark for hours post-show for selfies and conversations with fans, but obsessing on a ten second vignette in a recent interview with Charlamagne Tha God where he admits to menacing the Domino delivery drivers of South Norwood in his youth, taking their pizza and their ‘ped’ (moped).
My father was a journalist for nearly half a century so, I understand the media lean towards shock and awe headlines, however, the anecdote is a short interlude in a revelatory ninety-minute interview with CTG in which Stormy elaborates on the rich themes of Heavy is the Head. In the exchange, words like ‘wholehearted’, ‘duty’, ‘leadership’ and ‘responsibility’ dominate.
I was struck by Stormzy’s candour, as he elaborates on everything from his Ghanaian values to balancing commercial and critical success with integrity. He ruminates on making difficult decisions, self-reflection and remorse. Simply put, to me, there were more abject meditations on leadership and accountability here than in any TEDtalk.
One of the most interesting revelations in the interview is when Stormzy relates how he paused a collaboration with his hero, Jay-Z because it wasn’t quite right (‘It’s not the rhythm’). He is stoic about the stillness, vision and integrity it took to make that difficult decision.
So take the time, listen to the interview – and you’ll see why I’ll be treating my business colleagues and friends to a VIP experience to sample Stormzy’s unique energy first hand at The O2 (and I’ll keep a little something back to tip the delivery driver, after all, you never know what they’ve been through!).
https://youtu.be/LVuDJ5aO2fs (Video credit; CThaGodWORLD Productions)
Keep reading beyond those headlines.