can stormzy make history this week with wicked skengman freestyle part four?
We speak to Stormzy as he's about to become the first rapper to chart in the UK with a freestyle.
South London rapper Stormzy could be the first person to take a freestyle into the UK charts this Saturday with the fourth installment of his #WickedSkengman series. Over JME's Serious beat (apt since Adenuga is the last person to nearly chart with a freestyle, finishing just outside the Top 40 at 41), Stormzy drops six minutes of pun-laden bars in front of fans and fellow artists including the Section Boys and Krept & Konan. 'My worst days are some of your best days / Punch a grime MC off his Segway' is just one highlight. The video is shot in Stormzy's distinct no-frills style, and despite being unsigned and with no mainstream PR, radio or marketing support, #WickedSkengman4 has already had over 330,000 views and sits at No.12 in the midweeks - a chart position is in his grasp. We talk to Big Mike about the video, his strategy and the message he's sending out to the music industry…
Do you think the #WickedSkengman4 can chart this week?
It can, 100%. However, a lot of people don't understand the struggles that come with trying to chart! I learnt this very quickly from Know Me From which missed out on the Top 40 by nine places. A viral YouTube freestyle with no radio play by an unsigned grime artist competing with massive records that are being spun on daytime radio 30-40 times a day being broadcasted to 10s of millions of people is a massive task, but I hope it can, I really do. I feel like if every single person who listened to our music actually bought it we could compete with these machines on a mainstream scale.
What's the power of the track and also what you're doing as an artist working outside of the major label set-up?
I think the power lies within the fact that if we can do this, the CEOs and string-pullers can not ignore us any longer. It's impossible. They have to play the record; it's in their charts. It'll be such an invasion of territory that we're not really meant to be in.
What's the ethos/idea behind your YouTube identity? It's obviously very 'real' -- one camera, shot quickly and cheaply -- but I'm assuming that's part of a planned strategy?
I don't even think of it as a strategy. It's me in my element, it's my forte. Me being with all the mandem on the ends, spitting to an old school grime riddim is me in my element, that's when I feel I'm at my best. The whole "shot quickly and cheaply" is just time and cost effective. Again, I'm out here with my DJ, my manager, my bro Flipz and a couple of the mandem. We have to minimise on these things, we don't have the backing or plugging but I refuse for that to be a reason for me to not get it. I'll use my resources accordingly.
The video shows a bunch of kids who showed up to have the chance to spit bars alongside you - do you see yourself as the people's champion in some ways?
The people decide who their champion is -- I wish I could claim that (laughs). But for me it's just fun, I grew up in south London and I remember watching the scene pop off in East and think 'Ahhhh I would love to be in Bow E3 right now spitting wid Wiley and Dizzee'. So now that I'm here I feel like it'll be sick to let people come and spit and flex with man just for fun.
What's your favourite line from the freestyle?
I think my favourite lyric is the "If you got a BET, bring it out / Oh you don't? Shut your mouth!" because of how cheeky and fun it is. Plus you got Krept in the background putting up a high-five which had me dying when I watched it back. I never really know what's gonna get a reaction, again that's something that the mandem and the people with me decide.
Part of WSM4's charm is it shows you messing up. Were you not tempted to reshoot or edit those bits out?
Nah, because I feel like that's the only place where I'm allowed to mess up and I love it. I'm just like 'Yeah fuck it, keep that in'. I'll polish up and make everything neat for the album but with this I'm with the people I love the most, my bredrins, my supporters, let me have fun and mess up and chat shit lol.
If you chart with a freestyle, how will you celebrate and what message do you think it sends to 'the industry'?
I announced on Saturday that if it charts I'm throwing a SkengParty, which will be free entry for all and we will all get shitfaced. Literally free entry for everyone to celebrate what we've achieved, God willing. I want it to be the biggest warning shot to the industry. We are coming. We're coming with dutty freestyles, with menacing themes, and horrible language over merky beats and guess what? You have to play it!
Buy #WickedSkengman4 here