I have to shamefacedly admit that, while I admire Stormzy's tremendous talent, creativity and empowering activism, I haven't really enjoyed his music! I guess I'm used to other genres like classics, soul and reggae! However, I remind myself that without his music producing the money, he perhaps would not have made the impact he has done on the lives of others. And big respect to that!
In fact, the man himself can do no wrong, for me, because I believe he is simply awesome in the example he sets for helping to create a better society, especially his ability to speak to the experiences of young people in the UK, and his use of music to promote social change.
If you are not aware of this unique musician, Stormzy is a British rapper, singer, and songwriter with a very long name, who is considered to be one of the most influential artists of his generation. His short stage name is so apt because he has certainly taken the industry by storm! His music is known for its energetic live performances, powerful lyrics, and mix of grime, rap, and other genres.
Born Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr. in South Norwood, London, in 1993, he began rapping at the precocious age of 11, and by his early 20s, had gained quite a following on the UK underground music scene. In 2014, he released his debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer, which was a critical and commercial success, winning the Mercury Prize and the Brit Award for Album of the Year, and has not looked back since. He has also appeared in several films and television shows, including starring in the 2019 film Top Boy, with significant parts in TV shows like Peaky Blinders and Killing Eve.
In addition to his music career, Stormzy is also a successful businessman and philanthropist. The founder of the Merky Foundation, which supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through donations and publishing assistance to encourage writers to tell their stories, he is also a vocal advocate for social justice issues, and has spoken out against racism, inequality, and police brutality.
Stormzy came to my attention a couple of years ago when I read about his launch of the Stormzy Scholarship which provides financial assistance to help Black students gain access to Cambridge University. But that is not all he's done. A passionate philanthropist, he has used millions of pounds to support various causes, particularly those related to racial equality, justice reform, and Black empowerment in the UK. Not surprisingly, in 2021, he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Exeter for his 'contributions to philanthropy and education'.
Altogether, he has donated £10 million to the Merky Foundation for various causes to help disadvantaged young people, like the Justice & Equality Fund and the National Black Youth Alliance. Other notable projects include:
- £500,000 to the Black Heart Foundation to fund educational scholarships for disadvantaged students to access higher education and pursue their dreams.
- £1 million to the #MerkyBooks publishing imprint, which aims to publish books by young writers from diverse backgrounds, thus providing a platform for young writers from diverse backgrounds to share their stories.
- £100,000 to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, which supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Of his school days, he said he was 'very naughty' as a youth for "his own entertainment", but tended to do well in his exams. However, he admitted that his Alevel results were 'humbling'. He added "For someone who would cuss in class and was on the verge of being expelled, it was A Levels that showed me that in life you need work ethic."
With such dramatic musical success in a relatively short period of time, and deep empathy for others, Stormzy is an amazing role model for young people around the world - an inspiration to many. Not only is he blazing his own trail of personal empowerment, but he is certainly lengthening that trail for others to follow.
About the Creator
British Empowerment Coach/Public speaker/DEI Consultant. Author: The New Theory of Confidence and 7 Steps To Finding And Keeping 'The One'!. Graduate/Doctor of Open Univ; Postgrad Cambridge Univ. Keen on motivation, relationships and books.