Stormzy’s Mel Made Me Do It review: arrogant, slick wordplayPosted by Mike Schumacher
The magnetic MC’s first solo outing in three years finds him comfortable with a crown atop his head
Songs by Stormzy often fall into one of two categories: puff-chested flexing, complete with yachts, Yacht-Masters, and MC masterclassing, or choral, heaving and passionate, all weighty feelings and soul-bearing. However, Mel Made Me Do It, his first solo release in over three years, pulls off a remarkable trick by finding a place in the gulf between those two styles without going entirely off the rails.
The rhythm creates the type of atmosphere that an MC would use to express their emotions. It is sparse, with hints of choir here and harp there, chugged along with the wooden rattle of what sounds like a goat’s bell, and the stomp of a size 12 kick. However, the most of it is bragging. Not less than seven and a half minutes of it.
While Stormzy’s most recent album, Heavy Is the Head, explored the dangers and obligations of fame, Mel Made Me Do It shows him at ease wearing a crown. I’ve been the GOAT for so long, I suppose it’s not thrilling when I win, is the song’s first lyric, which is so disarming that it both foreshadows and negates precisely what a reviewer could say about an artist’s long-awaited comeback. He continues, “To produce a classic, absolutely, it takes decades. I guess touché.
Before the Covid-19 epidemic twisted timelines and canceled international tours, Stormzy’s solo performance on a song was last heard in 2020. At that time, he was also responding to his detractors. Over a period of many weeks, he engaged in a long Twitter spat with Wiley, a stalwart of the grime windup. While citing his own (admittedly many) honors and pricey watches, he takes off where he left off, ripping up old Wiley flows and calling out “washed-up godfathers” after seeming to leave the argument alone.
The fact that this performance doesn’t grow old is a credit to Stormzy’s charisma, which, unlike that of any of his contemporaries, can captivate an audience at Glastonbury just as effectively as it does on the BBC Breakfast sofa. Stormzy’s witty wording plays a little role in this, but flows are more important. Within a minute or two, he completes more than one hand can count, then circles back, flipping vowels, juggling consonants, and doing tricks with his tongue while being supported by this lolloping, languorous, deliciously sparse rhythm. He makes it appear effortless.
Let someone else laud you, not your own words, according to Proverbs 27. Not from you, and not from an outsider.” Stormzy may concur. But when you can make it seem so amazing yourself, why let someone else boast on your behalf?
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