Stepping out in a union jack stab proof vest to the song: ‘Know Me From’ with the words Croydon, Thornton Heath and South Norwood emblazoned in lights behind him at Glastonbury was the final recognition, if needed, that Stormzy is a mega star!
Many of his lyrics are not pretty but they sent an important message to the worldwide audience watching him; about tackling knife crime, racism within the arts, social profiling and politics.
The grime artist from Thornton Heath doesn’t just want to perform he wants to change the face of popular culture and give the next generation of young black people a voice.
He is also giving talented young people a platform and chose 10-year-old girl Princess K, from thousands of hopefuls to dance alongside him on the Pyramid Stage in a red tracksuit to Return of the Rucksack.
His act and set with its spectacular pyrotechnic display was described by the BBC as a thrilling, thought-provoking and that the show cemented his status as ‘Britain’s best rapper.”
He mentioned artists that had paved the way for him but also wanted to give a shout out to those coming through the ranks, many from Croydon like: A2, Hardy Caprio, and his cousin Nadia Rose. In the same week his #Merky Books label published Taking Up Space: The Black Girls Manifesto for Change.
The 25-year-old rapper, who was wearing a custom made stab vest by Banksy, said on stage: “I’m overwhelmed with emotions, this is the most surreal feeling I’ve ever experienced.” His performance won the approval of so many particularly in his hometown.
Andre Joseph on Twitter said: “Before last night people would ask where I’m from and I’d say “Thornton Heath” and say it with my chest. The reply would be where’s that?? Well now you know. Thank you @stormzy”
Another Romy Iris Conroy said: “Thank you @stormzy for that incredible set. Me and my whole squad are from Thornton Heath and Croydon and we ALL cried so much. Look at the south east strength!!!!!!!!!!! “
He didn’t shy away from politics with a references to Boris Johnson and when performing his hit single Vossi Bop, where he chants: “F*** the government and f*** Boris.”
Later came a ‘Blinded By Your Grace, Pt. 1’ duet with Chris Martin of Coldplay, one of the biggest bands in the world, before a cover of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’. Croydon North MP Steve Reed praised the star, Tweeting: “Amazing to see Croydon superstar @stormzy proudly naming areas in #CroydonNorth during his mega #Glastonbury performance.”
Kamia Hunte better known as Princess K, who describes herself as a dancer actor, singer, model and motivational speaker explained how Stormzy’s team got in touch with her parents Sabrina and Marvin Hunte who is from Croydon and manages the young star and siblings who perform as Dem 3 Dancers.
Princess K told CBBC: “I started going to rehearsals and it was just amazing to hear that I was picked out of thousands of people to perform with Stormzy. “He said that I was a brilliant dancer which was absolutely amazing for person like Stormzy to say ‘I’m good at dancing’ is really important to me.”
Princess K added: “I was performing in front of 150,000 people and that was a big massive leap for me. The whole experience was very, very good because they treated me like my family and everyone on the team was absolutely amazing. They made sure everyone was okay and they made sure that everyone was safe.”
•#Merky Books was set up by publishers Penguin Random House and Stormzy in June 2018 to find and publish the best writers of a new generation.
The Black Girls Manifesto for Change, co-written and edited by Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi who said: “We can only hope that reading this helps you to be a better friend, parent, sibling or teacher to black girls living through what we did. It’s time we stepped away from seeing this as a problem that black people are charged with solving on their own.” Chelsea (pictured left above), who is now on course to join a city law firm in London, was the only black girl in her year group of around 200 to read History at Homerton College, Cambridge.
She graduated with first-class honours, and in her final year was Vice-President of the African-Caribbean Society. Ore (right) is a Politics and International Relations graduate from Jesus College, Cambridge, and was behind the Benin Bronze repatriation campaign, the #BlackMenofCambridgeUniversity campaign and was President of the university’s African-Caribbean Society.