All the artists Stormzy namechecked in his emotional tribute during Glasto 2019, including Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Giggs, Wretch 32, Kano, Skepta, Ghetts and "all of us coming through"...AJ Tracey, MoStack, J Hus, Avelino, A2, Miss Banks and more. We know he loves you it's different.
See what we did here? A-ha. Our Dark & Stormy ‘Soul’ series is back with a bang. Literally, since that’s pretty much how Stormzy kicked off his historical Glasto set. So we divert from our usual alternative R&B/neo-soul/whatever and go rap, trap, grime, drill and, whatever.
Entering stage left, protected by a stab-proof vest (we later discovered was designed by none other than Banksy), Stormzy felt it appropriate to remind his audience - half way through the opener Know Me From - that this was “only the fucking beginning”.
Anyhow, what a way for us to introduce our first ever artist-curated playlist, put together for us by the man the hour himself, Stormzy.
Well, sort of.
You see, many things impressed on the big night. It was a big deal for the first British rapper to headline the world’s most famous, and best, music festival. He had to boss the Pyramid and he did, but not in the way Jay-Z (2008) or Kanye West (2015) had attempted to do before him. He knew he had to be different.
This was a very British affair. For one thing, it was a conversation as much as it was a performance, with Stormzy referring to “Glastonbury 2019” like he was talking to a friend down the pub - albeit during an emphatic, animated conversation perhaps. Of course, “Glastonbury 2019” was collectively rooting for the man right from the start.
Three things struck during the performance:
The show was orchestrated to within an inch of its life, from the staging to the stab-proof vest - it looked like something put together by Danny Boyle, or Steve McQueen or indeed Banksy. It was performance art. [Stormzy’s set was directed by Chris 'Bronski' Jablonski and and fellow director Amber Rimell. Congratulations to them].
The evening set challenges on many fronts for Stormzy, and he must have considered how a 25 year-old black man from a housing estate in Croydon would go down to a largely white, middle-class, mostly privileged crowd. But they drank from his cup. It was less a concert and more a demonstration in crossover communication that no British politician could possibly achieve, even if they wanted to.
He came to life even more once his shirt came off. To perform stripped like that says something else about the way he needs to communicate. That said, his tracksuit bottoms made me nervous. Exposure isn’t something feared by the man.
But of the special moments, perhaps the most striking of all was when Stormzy took to the walkway to get into his audience, up close and personal. For a moment it looked like he might be overwhelmed, but he ended up channeling his personal feelings back to the audience, via his collective family of British rappers - whom he namechecked (seemingly) off the cuff - to the tune of around 60 shoutouts, starting with the handful of household names who paved the way for him - and then “so many more of us coming through”. The maths itself proving to be a powerful element of the message, more so than the names themselves.
Indeed he was forced to acknowledge when he finally ran out of that particular stream of consciousness, there are many more he forgot to mention. From there, he was acapella with the crowd for the opening bars of Shut Up (could there be a better anthem for Britain right now, could there?).
Here they all are, those artists given a shoutout during that emotional tribute, bookended by Shut Up and the epic Return Of The Rucksack. We may be back again with Stormzy for Vol. 2 and all of those artists he missed and probably thought of later and all of those still to come through. You never know.
With thanks to Baber Ahmed and Mick Clarke for help with track choices.
Playback notes: Playlist is in the order of Stormzy’s shoutouts, but I guess he wouldn’t mind if you hit shuffle, or if there was a button for ‘bounce’ that might work out well.
Following our Glasto playlists, normal service resumes with next up…”Cruise Control - Bright & Breezy Edition” (all new yacht rock). We do like to mess things up a bit.