The rapper surprises a Croydon teenager by decorating his bedroom, and discusses the mass movement in a new video
At the end of June 2019, Stormzy was making history as the first Black British solo artist to headline Glastonbury. Fast forward a year, and the world is in the midst of a global pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement is bigger than ever, and Stormzy is in Croydon decorating a teenager’s bedroom.
The rapper is there as part of a ‘give back’ scheme run by decorating company, The Good Guys, who transform young people’s bedrooms for free. As he paints – referring to himself as “an intern” – Stormzy talks to BBC News about offering a helping hand, leaving social media, and what BLM means to him.
“I’ve been cheering,” he says. “So even like, (when) we’ve been going to the protest, I haven’t been going there to grab the mic. I’ve just been saying: ‘Yo, this is sick, I’m happy everyone is here’.” Stormzy was spotted at BLM protests in London last month, just days after he pledged £10 million to Black British causes.
“I feel like I don’t have any answers,” he continues. “A lot of people don’t have answers, but we’re all just trying and standing together cheering.”
“One thing I really want this movement to do is show what it means to be Black. You hear so much rhetoric you know, ‘All lives matter, why do Black lives matter more?’ And it’s like, ‘Bruv, do you not understand?’ If we weren’t oppressed, we wouldn’t be shouting. We would just be living our lives. This is a real pain, this ain’t some sort of trend. This is real life, and this has been our reality for hundreds, thousands of years.”
The donations from Stormzy’s pledge will go towards organisations, charities, and movements that are committed to fighting racial inequality, justice reform, and Black empowerment within the UK.
Addressing his recent departure from social media, Stormzy said: “I love it for bare reasons, but it’s also quite a toxic, negative place where you’re consuming so much and I was like, ‘I don’t need to consume that much’. So I said, ‘I’m going to delete it’. If you delete the app, or you unplug the internet, it’s gone. You’ve got to protect the mental, do you know what I mean?”
Stormzy appeared to delete his accounts shortly after publicly feuding with Wiley in January. The pair released a number of diss tracks about one another – after Wiley criticised Stormzy for his work with pop stars like Ed Sheeran – of which Stormzy’s were titled, “Disappointed” and “Still Disappointed”.
Derek Owusu, the first novelist on Stormzy’s #Merky Books imprint – which he launched in 2018 – recently won the £10k Desmond Elliott prize for his ‘profound’ debut, That Reminds Me, a semi-autobiographical novel about foster homes and mental health.