On February 24, 2017 rapper/singer/songwriter Stormzy released his debut album Gang Signs & Prayer without the support of a major label.
Now, one week later, Gang Signs & Prayer has become the first Grime album to hit the top of the U.K. album charts.
It was a close call, with British singer/songwriter Rag’n’Bone Man‘s Human album standing as the odds-on favorite for the top spot earlier in the week. However, Stormzy edged ahead with combined sales of 69,000 units, according to the Official Charts Company. Gang Signs & Prayer also received a second accolade, as it received the most first-week streams of any No. 1 album in U.K. history, surpassing both Adele and Justin Bieber’s latest albums.
This has been a long time coming for Grime, Britain’s unique brand of rap/hip-hop. Even though the genre reflects some of the greatest musical innovation in modern British history, and provides a voice for those who feel displaced or otherwise ignored, the genre has historically been shunned and denigrated by mainstream media. Artists like Stormzy were written off as “Gangsters,” even though he is a reformed Christian who received six A*s (the highest possible grade) in his GCSEs.
Watch the music video for the first single off Gang Signs & Prayer below:
Over the next few months, Stormzy, real name Michael Omari, will embark on a UK-wide tour in support of the new album. He has already sold out two dates at London’s O2 Academy in Brixton, and has added a third date on May 4, 2017 to meet the demand. Check out the full list of tour dates below: