H.I.T.H is the name of Stormzy’s highly anticipated sophomore studio album, it’s an acronym for Heavy is the Head. The idea of the phrase can be found in Shakespeare’s play King Henry IV, where he said “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”.
The phrase speaks to the fact that being the king and top of the game isn’t short of problems, with people wanting to tear you down from the top spot. It is very much established that Stormzy is a top artist in the UK so wears the metaphoric crown.
On the song “The Intro” from 168: The Mixtape he opened by saying (“People don’t think I’m a threat, people don’t think I’m one to be looked out for or to be watched”) then says (“That’s when it becomes a problem, that’s when I have to rise up and become a problem”).
We all know how much he has risen, I expect him to rise to another level, with anyone that still doubts him being fully put to rest. I’m writing this section the day before the album just so I can see if I hit the nail on the head with my predictions.
Taking into consideration the 5 songs released (Audacity, Crown, Own It, Wiley Flow & Vossi Bop), his previous work and the tracklist…
I feel that Stormzy is going to give us a raw but elegant depiction of his life on the throne. A lot of us have a glamorous view on what being a king is like and ‘being at the top’ but Stormzy will reference some darker aspects of what he goes through on a personal level. He wouldn’t be who he is without playfulness and charisma being included. From slow thought provoking melodies to vicious baselines, he can/will do it all. Hopefully I’m not too far off.
The start of this album is nothing short of raw and lyrically explosive with Stormzy letting us know he’s a force to be reckoned with, telling anyone that dares challenge him (“Oh god they love to wind me up, but one by one I line them up”) on ‘Big Michael‘. The eerie tones of ‘Audacity’ creep up on you, then before you know it you are pulled into a dynamic production that matches Stormzy’s lyrical bravado(“who the f*ck went and gassed you up like you’re good enough to be clashing me”). The great Headie One also provided us his view on things and definitely but on a show.
His charisma even shines through when he’s letting us know (“These gatekeepers are pricks”) on ‘Bronze‘ or that (“We used bang your sh*t now your album’s just sutten that we bill on”) from ‘Handsome‘. These are two powerful statements addressing those established in the game that keep wanting to challenge Big Mike. I guess they don’t like that the torch is being passed…ouch. You can only love his playfully bold lyrics in the face of adversity.
Stormzy burst on the scene for his unapologetic attitude but to me where he really shines is when he’s opening up and is being vulnerable.
(“I’m just happy seeing me happy brings you joy, it’s the little things in life, the little things this thing destroyed”) are the last words spoken on ‘Rachel’s Little Brother’. Words I feel reflect his feelings about the fame and being on the throne. It takes away so much from the normal life he sometimes wishes he could go back to, a simpler time. This song is really a tale of two halves, the producer gives us vibrant percussion with smooth female vocals complimenting Stormzy’s insightful rhyme. Then breaks down into mellow piano keys with soulful vocals from Stormzy.
This album brings us so much to take in as a listener, but all the songs have a symbolic reference to the title ‘Heavy is the Head’. In the sense that if you listen properly you will hear how he is affected by his position in life and the sacrifices they bring. ‘One Second‘, complimented by Grammy winning singer H.E.R, is Stormzy venting to us almost as therapy while asking if we have just a second for him to get things off his chest.
On this song Stormzy let us into his mental health saying (“I get this daunting feeling on the days I’m on my best”) and (“When all these demons that I carry get to messin with my head”). The fact that he is always willing to speak on matters of importance regardless of the affect is commendable he explains (“When I take a stand they say I’m ruining my brand. But I could never give a fu*k, that’s just my duty as a man”).
Track 14 “Superheroes” is the anthem that we didn’t know we were going to get but certainly needed. Stormzy as an artist has gone so clear but never strays far from his root. An ode to all of us as black people. (“Our burdens are heavy but we ain’t lightweights”) is a line that speaks for itself but is so important, us as black people go through a lot and if anyone can relate to the phrase “heavy is the head that wears the crown” it’s certainly us. With an infectious beat that can only put you in a good mood, Stormzy delivers a priceless message to both genders (“young black kings don’t die on me” and (“young black queens don’t quit on me”). At the end of the song we certainly get a blast from the past with Stormzy singing part of the Tracy Beaker theme song that speaks to determination and resilience.
There are so many layers that can be unpacked from songs on this album. For that’s what makes this a great album you can’t take any of it at face value, it allows you to look beneath the surface. H.I.T.H is a great follow up from Gang Signs & Prayer. It really dives into Stormzy’s state of mind and how he really feels about the success as well as power he has. It must be great to have acclaim and riches but on ‘Do Better’ he asks (“Have you ever had to sacrifice your health, ever had to sacrifice yourself?”) it must not be easy and really shows that ‘heavy is the head that wears the crown. The versatility in production and lyrical content really cement why he is at the top of the game also for YEARS to come.
We’re going to end with some wise words… (“F*ck the government and f*ck Boris”)- Stormzy on ‘Vossi Bop’