Last summer, Stormzy headlined England’s legendary Glastonbury festival, wearing a Union Jack-emblazoned stab vest made for him by Banksy. On the artwork for his sophomore album, Heavy is the Head, the English rapper holds the vest in his hand, wearing a text crown reading “h.i.t.h.” as he looks down on it. It’s a metaphor for his ascent to the top of the rap game, as well as the pressure of keeping the crown firmly planted on his head — even referencing this at the very end of standout track “Audacity.”
Heavy Is The Head continues the blistering form he’s put forth since his 2015 single, “Shut Up.” While the presence of Grime on his 2017 debut Gang Signs and Prayer has been eschewed somewhat in favour of Afrobeat, the album is full of highlights; from the ruthless, aggressive delivery on “Wiley Flow,” to well-placed features from H.E.R. on “One Second” and Headie One on “Audacity,” to heartfelt tributes to his sister (“Rachael’s Little Brother”) and ex-girlfriend (“Lessons”).
Although the album suffers mildly from awkward sequencing (lead single “Vossi Bop” looks wildly out of place as a closer), Heavy is the Head remains a strong statement of intent from Stormzy, and one coming from a rapper who sounds as confident and assured as ever.