This Is What I Mean

Album: This Is What I Mean (2022)
Charted: 32
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Songfacts®:

  • The title track of Stormzy's third studio album finds him talking about his rise from independent rapper to the crown prince of grime. Taking stock of his journey, Stormzy compares himself to Ed Sheeran.

    In a second, yeah, I shine like Ed

    And Harry Styles.

    I heard them say that grime ain't dead
    I'm Harry Styles, the way I fine-line tread, you're goin' mainstream


    While giving the glory to God.

    I heard Sunday's the new Saturday
    We praisin' God, I watch my enemies evaporate
  • Stormzy also uses his platform to raise up other artists he admires.

    Even though we're comin' from a common place
    All I see is stars, like we in a Wraith
    So give him room to grow and just give him space
    And he could be a young, black Jimmy Napes


    London-based songwriter and producer Jimmy Napes collaborated with Stormzy on his 2019 hit "Crown." His other productions include Sam Smith's "Stay With Me," Disclosure's "Latch" and Clean Bandit's "Rather Be."
  • Stormzy puts his money where his mouth is by giving a voice to three artists: British rapper Ms. Banks, Ghanaian singers Amaarae, and Black Sherif all contribute guest vocals. The song also samples the English singer-songwriter Jacob Collier, who contributed to several This Is What I Mean tracks.
  • Stormzy recorded "This Is What I Mean" at a writing camp on Osea Island, Essex. It started with some production from Knox Brown, and chord progression by P2J. "We had this idea for a song where I wanted to use all my favorite artists, like how a painter might use different brushes and different colors," Stormzy told i-D magazine. "I didn't want them to just do verses, I wanted to paint with their voices. So P2J sampled Jacob Collier's voice, and turned that into something eerie, and we used that as the basis for this song and the sample - it just became more and more epic. It was one of those ideas, like that first song, that evolved over time."

    "It's about trying to do something that feels good and right, something that strikes a chord within my soul and my spirit," he added. "It's like painting: if it feels right to put some red on the canvas we do; if we want to cover it in blue we do. This song is a testament to that process."
  • Dir. LX filmed the video at the This Is What I Mean launch party in Soho. It alternates between shots of the album release show and studio-based shots featuring Stormzy, Collier, Ms. Banks, Amaarae and Black Sherif performing the song.
  • This Is What I Mean topped the UK albums chart. It gave Stormzy a hat trick after his 2017 debut Gang Signs & Prayer and its 2019 follow-up Heavy Is The Head both reached #1.

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