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Gang Signs & Prayer
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Album: Gang Signs & Prayer
# Song Title   Time
1)    First Things First More Info...
2)    Cold More Info...
3)    Bad Boys (feat. Ghetts and J Hus) More Info...
4)    Blinded By Your Grace, Pt. 1 More Info...
5)    Big For Your Boots More Info...
6)    Velvet / Jenny Francis (Interlude) More Info...
7)    Mr Skeng More Info...
8)    Cigarettes & Cush (feat. Kehlani & Lily Allen) More Info...
9)    21 Gun Salute (feat. Wretch 32) [Interlude] More Info...
10)    Blinded By Your Grace, Pt. 2 (feat. MNEK) More Info...
11)    Return Of The Rucksack More Info...
12)    100 Bags More Info...
13)    Don't Cry For Me (feat. Raleigh Ritchie) More Info...
14)    Crazy Titch (Interlude) More Info...
15)    Shut Up More Info...
16)    Lay Me Bare More Info...
 
Album: Gang Signs & Prayer
# Song Title   Time
1)    First Things First More Info...
2)    Cold More Info...
3)    Bad Boys (feat. Ghetts and J Hus) More Info...
4)    Blinded By Your Grace, Pt. 1 More Info...
5)    Big For Your Boots More Info...
6)    Velvet / Jenny Francis (Interlude) More Info...
7)    Mr Skeng More Info...
8)    Cigarettes & Cush (feat. Kehlani & Lily Allen) More Info...
9)    21 Gun Salute (feat. Wretch 32) [Interlude] More Info...
10)    Blinded By Your Grace, Pt. 2 (feat. MNEK) More Info...
11)    Return Of The Rucksack More Info...
12)    100 Bags More Info...
13)    Don't Cry For Me (feat. Raleigh Ritchie) More Info...
14)    Crazy Titch (Interlude) More Info...
15)    Shut Up More Info...
16)    Lay Me Bare More Info...
 
Product Description
Product Details
Performer Notes
  • Recording information: Air Edel, London; Blast Off Studios, NYC; Esonia Studios, NYC; Myaudiotonic Studios (The Matrix), London.
  • Photographer: John Ross .
  • For all the talk of new wave grime artists, Stormzy has long been standing head and shoulders -- literally and figuratively -- above his peers. Whether you agree or not with the term "new wave," it's arguably irrelevant to Michael Omari, who, on his debut album, continues to ascend the sometimes restrictive nature of the genre. The opening tracks feature plenty of the characteristic chest puffing and hostility associated with grime, ticking boxes such as declaring the hard work put in on "First Things First," an Eskibeat homage titled "Cold," and features from heavy-hitters Ghetts and J HUS on "Bad Boys." But as Gang Signs & Prayer unfolds, a lot of the bravado falls away, revealing Omari's inner workings, his roots, and his desire to elevate grime to the next level. "Blinded by Your Grace, Pt. 1" is the first sign that this isn't your typical grime album, offering a touch of gospel and a respite to the proceedings. Whereas Omari has turned his hand to slower numbers in the past -- notably on his 2014 EP Dreamers Disease -- here his singing and the accompanying backing piano feel impassioned and organic.
  • The album continues to shift, gradually at first, with harder tracks alternating with R&B or gospel numbers; by the halfway point, "Cigarettes & Kush," mellow vibes dominate the record. The refusal to pack the track list with bangers is the differentiating factor between Stormzy the grime MC and Stormzy the artist, elegantly showcasing that grime doesn't have to play by the rules, and that artists can express themselves outside of boasting and smack talk, acting as ammo for the argument that diversity and creativity are still prevalent in the scene.
  • The guest spots featured in the latter half of the album are perfectly chosen, with appearances from Kehlani, Wretch 32, MNEK, and Raleigh Ritchie, who all act as counterweights to Omari's deeper tones. Conversely, one of the most touching moments doesn't feature any names; instead, "100 Bags" finds Omari sharing an open letter to his mum, apologizing for past actions that wouldn't have made her proud, and promising to look after her as thanks for raising him alone. During the album's final interlude, Omari's phone rings in the booth, and on the other end is old-era MC Crazy Titch. He's calling from prison -- as he's still serving a life sentence for murder -- just to drop his endorsement: it provides a perfect summation of Stormzy the artist, in the process calling out any MCs from his generation who impose boundaries on grime. Directly afterward, Gang Signs & Prayer hits you with Stormzy's breaking track "Shut Up," reminding haters to hush; quite rightly as "Shut Up" is easily one of the biggest grime tracks in recent years. It's a bold move to go against the grain in a genre where adherence to style can equal respect, but Stormzy's ambition exceeds potential judgment from purists. He's more concerned with expressing himself and adapting to survive, so that he can express further for years to come. ~ Liam Martin
Professional Reviews
NME (Magazine) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "'Bad Boys' is brooding road rap that sees grime veteran Ghetts and relative newcomer J Hus unite..."

Clash (Magazine) - "[E]arnest, honest, and self-confident....Sir Spyro assisted tracks like `Mr Skeng' and `Return Of The Rucksack,' or the Swifta Beater produced `Cold' will likely satisfy."
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