Stormzy is well on his way to becoming the next big thing in grime (and out of it, too). Born Michael Omari and raised in South London’s Croydon area, the 21-year-old MC—blessed with a low-registered, nimble growl for a flow—began his journey in music via road rap circles in 2010 where we got to witness his talent in its rawest form, but he would go on to make his name in a genre much more fitting to his lyrical style. 

Big Mikey, as he’s also known, has had a gradual and somewhat under-the-radar buzz up until 12 months ago. The tipping point came in the form of Wicked Skengman, a series of sporadic, quick-fire freestyles that began as an ode to Stormzy’s long-time penchant for grime—a sound he grew up on, but a scene he felt detached to—lacing and gracing seminal riddims such as S-X’s “Wooo Riddim” and Ruff Sqwad’s “Pied Piper”. Then, the scene came knocking, with Wiley and Skepta the first to give their invaluable seal of approval. It may have been the Skengman sessions that caught everyone’s ear, but it wasn’t until the independent release of his debut EP—July 2014’s Dreamers Disease—that critics saw him as a serious contender.

Last October, Stormzy won Best Grime Act at the prestigious MOBO Awards; that same month, he also became the first unsigned rhymer to appear on the esteemed BBC music show Later… with Jools Holland, where he performed super-grime anthem “Not That Deep” from Dreamers Disease. After that, it was no wonder everyone hailed him as an artist ‘to watch’, but no one could predict just how big it was going to get for him. Stormzy now carries a responsibility to uphold grime up at all times, never to be cast down into the pits of commercial hell like so many before him.

The big question now, is: can Big Mikey handle the pressure? We met up with him to find out...