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Stormzy - Mel Made Me Do It review: Cameos and never-ending flows are another reminder of greatness

Stormzy is well and truly back

By
23 September 2022
W

hat’s the biggest flex in the new Stormzy video? Pulling together a crew of cameo appearances that’s more impressive than the average awards ceremony guestlist? Making the video itself so long that YouTube insists on slapping an advert halfway through it? Or delivering a seemingly limitless lyrical flow with some of the sharpest, wittiest, most memorable wordplay of your career so far?

All of it, basically. As he admits in the final line, closing out a verse that spills well over the 1,600-word mark: “I’ve been the G.O.A.T for so long that they never hype a n**** up / So I guess I gotta do it myself, boy.” Mission accomplished, it seems. If anyone gets to the end of watching the visuals for Mel Made Me Do It and thinks that Stormzy is anything other than a British cultural titan, then they probably need to watch it again.

And even if they did come to that conclusion the first time around, multiple rewatches of the KLVDR-directed video are a must. There are so many famous faces popping up across almost 11 minutes of footage that it’s impossible to appreciate them all. Some of them are laugh-out-loud funny as a result of being so unexpected — from mild-mannered documentarian Louis Theroux (no sign of his money jiggle-jiggling here, alas) to football manager Jose Mourinho, embodying his inner mob boss while giving a nod to the “I prefer not to speak” meme he inadvertently created — and some are particularly moving: at one point, Brenda Edwards, mother of the late pioneer Jamal Edwards, stands alongside a picture of her late son.

Stormzy sounds blazingly confident in the lyrics. Not only is he comparing himself to US president Joe Biden, and boasting about how his garage is home to both “a Lambo and a Rolls”, but he’s also doing it all over one of the more restrained beats in his back catalogue; unshakeable faith in his lyrical ability means the instrumentation can take a back seat here.

Football manager Jose Mourinho is one of many unexpected cameos

/ Timmsy

But he also stays true to his philanthropic form and often shouts out other heroes of the scene. “To make a classic, yeah it takes ages / But I still do it like my mate David,” he raps, surely referencing Dave’s Mercury Prize-winning debut album We’re All Alone In This Together.

Dave is one of a number of cultural heroes who appear in a procession towards the end of the video, alongside newer names such as Islington rapper Little Simz, to more established figures such as grime legend JME, and before him, the likes of Jazzie B and Trevor Nelson. It’s all soundtracked with an upliftingly delivered monologue, read by actor and writer Michaela Coel and written by rapper Wretch 32. It’s one of the most impactful things I can remember seeing in a music video in recent memory — and the fact that Stormzy managed to curate it all shows just elevated of a presence he now is.

Will this track feature on Stormzy’s upcoming album, which he’s promised by the end of the year? Who knows. But it’s certain that Stormzy is well and truly back, and we’re all the better for it.

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