After much fanfare, Stormzy’s third full-length album, This Is What I Mean, has now been released. He first signposted that something was coming with the marathon “Mel Made Me Do It” visual (which sadly doesn’t feature on the album), before officially kicking off the build-up with “Hide & Seek” in October.
His first since joining the 0207 Def Jam family, the new album builds on a lot of the themes set out on his first two albums and takes them even further. Exploring his thoughts on how Black people are presented in the media, expectations heaped upon him, and the importance of his faith are all given even greater weight here and with the exception of the title track and one or two other brief moments, there aren’t many high tempo moments here.
Alongside the release, Stormzy also took to Instagram to pen a message he says was inspired by the rollout of Tyler, The Creator’s IGOR. “He shared a message with it and I wanted to do the same but I was hesitant,” Stormzy writes. “Mainly because I would love for my music to do all the talking but I thought I’d share this message anyway.”
It’s not just the slower, more thoughtful tone that gives this a sense of grandeur and scale. Both on the boards and in the booth, Stormzy’s called on a pretty huge cast of A-listers to help him shape the album.
Features come from Black Sherif, Ms Banks, India.Arie, Amaarae, Debbie, Sampha, Ayra Starr, tendai., Nao, and Jacob Collier. And for the beats and instrumentals he’s drafted in PRGRSHN (who also acts as executive producer), KZ, Dion Wardle, Joel Peters, tendai., Juls, Tempoe, P2J, Owen Cutts, Grades, Scribz Riley, Knox Brown, Jojo Mukeza, and Miles.
Get into This Is What I Mean in full below.