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Gang Signs & Prayer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gang Signs & Prayer
Gang Signs & Prayer cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released24 February 2017
Recorded2015–16
Genre
Length58:47
Label
Producer
Stormzy chronology
Dreamers Disease
(2014)
Gang Signs & Prayer
(2017)
Singles from Gang Signs & Prayer
  1. "Big for Your Boots"
    Released: 3 February 2017
  2. "Cold"
    Released: 12 March 2017[1]
  3. "Cigarettes & Cush"
    Released: 29 August 2017[2]
  4. "Blinded by Your Grace, Pt. 2"
    Released: 27 October 2017[3]

Gang Signs & Prayer is the debut studio album by British rapper Stormzy. It was released on 24 February 2017 independently through #Merky Records while being distributed by ADA of Warner Music Group.[4] It is Stormzy's first major commercial release, following the Dreamers Disease EP (2014). The album features guest appearances from fellow MCs Wretch 32, Ghetts and J Hus, along with singers Kehlani, Raleigh Ritchie and MNEK. It features production from Fraser T. Smith and Sir Spyro, among others.

Gang Signs & Prayer was supported by the lead single "Big for Your Boots". Gang Signs & Prayer received critical acclaim upon release, and entered the UK Albums Chart at number one with sales of over 68,000 copies, becoming the first grime album in history to reach number one. It holds the distinction of having every song from the album appear concurrently on the UK Singles Chart, including seven songs in the top 40.[5] The album is certified Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Gang Signs & Prayer won British Album of the Year at the 2018 Brit Awards.[6]

Background

After gaining attention on the UK underground music scene via his Wicked Skengman series of freestyles over classic grime beats, Stormzy released his debut EP Dreamers Disease independently in July 2014.[7]

In March 2015, he released the single "Know Me From", which entered the UK Singles Chart at number 49. In September 2015, he released a final instalment to his "WickedSkengMan" freestyle series, "WickedSkengMan 4", onto iTunes, along with a studio version of his "Shut Up" freestyle over XTC's Functions on the Low instrumental.[8] The track debuted at number 18 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming Stormzy's first top 40 hit.[9] The online video for "Shut Up" gained millions of views and attention from the mainstream. As a result, Stormzy launched a Christmas number one campaign to get the song to number one,[10][11][12] ultimately peaking at number eight on the UK Singles Chart.

After a year's hiatus from social media to focus on the recording of the album, Stormzy returned in early February 2017 via a series of billboard campaigns across London displaying lyrical quotes and the hashtag #GSAP 24.02. The album title was announced to be Gang Signs & Prayer, set to be released on 24 February 2017, followed by the track listing the following day.[13][14][15]

Promotion

Prior to the album's official announcement, the non-album track "Shut Up" was released in September 2015 and ultimately included as the penultimate track on Gang Signs & Prayer. The non-album single "Scary" was released in April 2016 prior to Stormzy's hiatus. On 1 February 2017, a billboard campaign was launched across numerous areas in London that foreshadowed the release of the album.

Singles

"Big for Your Boots" was released as the album's lead single on 3 February 2017. The track was produced by Fraser T Smith and Sir Spyro. It entered the UK Singles Chart at number eight, become tied with "Shut Up" as Stormzy's highest-charting single. The song reached a new peak of number six in its fourth week of charting after the release of Gang Signs & Prayer, surpassing "Shut Up" as Stormzy's highest-charting single.

"Cold" was released as the album's second single on 12 March, following the album being certified Gold in the United Kingdom.[1]

"Cigarettes & Cush" was released as the album's third single on 29 August 2017.[2]

"Blinded by Your Grace, Pt. 2" was released as the album's fourth single on 27 October 2017.[3]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.8/10[16]
Metacritic82/100[17]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[18]
The Daily Telegraph4/5 stars[19]
Financial Times4/5 stars[20]
The Guardian4/5 stars[21]
The Independent3/5 stars[22]
NME5/5 stars[23]
The Observer4/5 stars[24]
Pitchfork7.6/10[25]
Q4/5 stars[26]
The Times4/5 stars[27]

Upon its release Gang Signs & Prayer received widespread acclaim from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 82, based on 19 reviews.[17] Giving it a perfect score, Jordan Bassett of NME stated that Stormzy "delivers a knockout debut that’s brash and pensive in equal measure."[23]

Alexis Petridis of The Guardian praised the musical diversity of the album: "More startling, however, is the confidence with which other tracks shift into unexpected musical territory. On paper, a rapper like Stormzy recording a lo-fi, electric piano-led, Stevie Wonderesque gospel track called '"Blinded By Your Grace, Pt 1" sounds like a textbook case of an artist overstretching himself; in reality, it’s fantastic, and oddly moving.", concluding that "It’s not a perfect debut – it’s slightly too long for one thing, and there are a couple of points where it sags – but it sounds like an album teeming with original, daring ideas. More importantly, it sounds like the work of an artist with the confidence and the talent to pull those ideas off."[21]

Accolades

Publication Accolade Year Rank Ref.
Drowned in Sound Favourite Albums of 2017
2017
79
NME NME's Albums of the Year 2017
2017
14
Exclaim! Exclaim!'s Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of 2017
2017
10

Commercial performance

After receiving close competition with Rag'n'Bone Man's Human, Gang Signs & Prayer entered the UK Albums Chart at number one, with combined sales of 68,594 copies.[31][32] It set British streaming records for the most first-week streams for a number one album in chart history, with 13.9 million streams, surpassing the opening week stream count of Drake's Views. Gang Signs & Prayer became the first grime album to chart at number one, as well as joining the likes of Skepta and Giggs of charting in the top five independently. The album also charted at number one on the UK Independent Chart, UK R&B Chart and the Irish Albums Chart, number two on the Scottish Albums Chart. Outside of the UK, it entered the Official New Zealand Music Chart at number 14 and number 34 in Sweden.

In the album's first week of release, seven tracks from Gang Signs & Prayer were in the top 40 of the UK Singles Chart – "Big for Your Boots", "Cold", "Bad Boys", "First Things First", "Mr Skeng", "Cigarettes & Cush" and "Shut Up". All sixteen tracks from the album appeared in the top 100 in a single week, making Stormzy the fourth artist to achieve this.[33]

Gang Signs & Prayer was certified Silver by the BPI in its first week of release.[34]

Track listing

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."First Things First"3:27
2."Cold"
  • Omari
  • Swifta Beater
2:36
3."Bad Boys" (featuring Ghetts and J Hus)
  • Smith
  • E.Y.
  • Stormzy
4:06
4."Blinded by Your Grace, Pt. 1"
  • Omari
  • Smith
  • Varren Wade
  • Dion Wardle
  • Smith
  • Stormzy
2:40
5."Big for Your Boots"
  • Omari
  • Karl Joseph
  • Smith
  • Sir Spyro
  • Stormzy
3:58
6."Velvet / Jenny Francis (Interlude)"
  • Omari
  • Mikey Akin
  • Moses Samuels
  • Nao
  • Sons of Sonix
  • Smith
  • Stormzy
5:39
7."Mr Skeng"
  • Omari
  • Joseph
  • Smith
  • Sir Spyro
  • Stormzy
3:17
8."Cigarettes & Cush" (featuring Kehlani and Lily Allen)
  • Smith
  • Stormzy
5:49
9."21 Gun Salute (Interlude)" (featuring Wretch 32)
  • Smith
  • Stormzy
2:26
10."Blinded by Your Grace, Pt. 2" (featuring MNEK)
  • Smith
  • Stormzy
3:50
11."Return of the Rucksack"
  • Smith
  • Sir Spyro
  • Stormzy
3:04
12."100 Bags"
  • Omari
  • Sunny Kale
  • Smith
  • Kale
  • Stormzy
3:37
13."Don't Cry for Me" (featuring Raleigh Ritchie)
  • Smith
  • Wizzy Wow
  • Stormzy
3:34
14."Crazy Titch (Interlude)"Crazy Titch 2:40
15."Shut Up"
  • Omari
  • XTC
  • Stormzy
  • XTC
2:46
16."Lay Me Bare"
  • Smith
  • E.Y.
  • Stormzy
5:04
Total length:58:47

Sample credits

  • "Velvet / Jenny Francis (Interlude)" contains a sample of "Intro (Like Velvet)" by Nao.
  • "Return of the Rucksack" interpolates lyrics from "Seems 2 Be" by Dizzee Rascal.
  • "Lay Me Bare" contains a sample of "Last Stand" by Kwabs.

Personnel

Vocals

  • Stormzy – vocals
  • MNEK – vocals
  • Lily Allen – vocals
  • Raleigh Ritchie – vocals
  • Kehlani – vocals
  • Wretch 32 – vocals
  • J Hus – vocals, backing vocals
  • Yasmin Green – vocals
  • Sleeks – backing vocals
  • Rasul A-Salaam – arranger, vocals
  • Keesha Gumbs – vocals
  • Babatunde "Soye" Soyebo – vocals
  • Monet Ulerio – vocals
  • Jenny Francis – spoken word
  • Crazy Titch – spoken word
  • Mama Stormz – spoken word
  • LaDonna Harley-Peters – backing vocals
  • Phebe Edwards – backing vocals
  • J Warner – backing vocals
  • Kenneth Asomani – backing vocals
  • Flipz – backing vocals
  • Rimes – backing vocals
  • Moses Samuels – backing vocals

Instruments

  • Rosie Danvers – orchestration, cello
  • Ruth O'Reilly – French horn
  • Corinne Bailey – French horn
  • Mike Lovat – trumpet
  • Andy Greenwood – trumpet
  • Paul Spong – trumpet
  • Dave Stewart – trombone
  • Ed Tarrant – trombone
  • Owen Slade – tuba
  • Simon Haram – saxophone
  • Martin Williams – saxophone
  • Lydia Griffiths – oboe
  • Louise Chapman – bassoon
  • Patrick Kiernan – violin
  • Hayley Pomfrett – violin
  • Debbie Widdup – violin
  • Eleanor Mathieson – violin
  • Jenny Sacha – violin
  • Anna Croad – violin
  • Kotono Sato – violin
  • Natalia Bonner – violin
  • Sally Jackson – violin
  • Emma Owens – viola
  • Becky Jones – viola
  • Nozomi Cohen – viola
  • Bryony James – cello
  • Richard Pryce – double bass
  • Camilla Pay – harp
  • Ben Epstein – bass guitar
  • Dexter Hercules – drums
  • Dion Wardle – keyboards, piano
  • Adam Wakeman – hammond

Production

  • Fraser T Smith – producer, mixer, programming, guitar, bass guitar, piano, keys, percussion
  • Manon Grandjean – mixer, engineer
  • Nick Taylor – engineer
  • Tom Coyne – mastering engineer
  • Randy Merrill – mastering engineer
  • Bryan Wilson – engineer
  • Mura Masa – producer, programming
  • Swifta Beater – producer, programming
  • EY – producer, programming
  • Sons of Sonix – production, programming
  • Sir Spyro – producer, keyboards, programming
  • Sunny Kale – producer, programming
  • Wizzy Wow AKA Isra Lohata – producers, programming
  • 169 – bass programming
  • 6Sixx – producer, programming, mixer
  • Scott Jacoby – recording engineer

Charts

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[54] Platinum 300,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history

Region Date Format Label
Worldwide 24 February 2017

References

  1. ^ a b "STORMZY [@STORMZY1] - COLD". YouTube. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b "STORMZY - CIGARETTES AND CUSH FT. KEHLANI & LILY ALLEN". YouTube.
  3. ^ a b "BBC - Radio 1 - Playlist". Radio 1.
  4. ^ "iTunes - Gang Signs & Prayer by Stormzy". iTunes. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100 | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  6. ^ "BRIT Awards 2018". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  7. ^ "New EP: Stormzy 'Dreamers Disease'   – MOBO Awards". Archived from the original on 2018-09-11. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
  8. ^ "WickedSkengMan4 – Single by Stormzy". iTunes (UK). Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Justin Bieber back at No 1 with What Do You Mean?". The Guardian. 18 September 2015.
  10. ^ "Grime MC Stormzy launches campaign for Christmas No 1". The Guardian. 14 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Stormzy And Twitter Want #ShutUpForXmasNo1". Capital XTRA. 14 December 2015.
  12. ^ "Odds on Stormzy getting Christmas Number One cut following 'Shut Up' boxing performance". NME. 14 December 2015.
  13. ^ "Stormzy shares full debut album details - NME". nme.com. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Stormzy album GSAP may be 'best of 2017' says 1Xtra's A.Dot". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Stormzy reveals tracklist for debut album Gang Signs & Prayer". factmag.com. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Gang Signs & Prayer by Stormzy reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  17. ^ a b "Reviews for Gang Signs & Prayer by Stormzy". Metacritic. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  18. ^ Martin, Liam. "Gang Signs & Prayer – Stormzy". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 April 2017.}
  19. ^ McCormick, Neil (1 June 2017). "From Alt-J to The Amazons: the best albums of the year 2017". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
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  22. ^ Gill, Andy (23 February 2017). "Album reviews: Sleaford Mods – English Tapas, Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer, Thundercat – Drunk, and more". The Independent. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  23. ^ a b Bassett, Jordan (23 February 2017). "Stormzy – 'Gang Signs & Prayer' Review". NME. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  24. ^ Empire, Kitty (26 February 2017). "Stormzy: Gang Signs & Prayer review – London's new grime lord". The Observer. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  25. ^ Ruiz, Matthew Ismael (28 February 2017). "Stormzy: Gang Signs & Prayer". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  26. ^ Howe, Rupert (May 2017). "Gale Force". Q (371): 109.
  27. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (24 February 2017). "Pop: Stormzy: Gang Signs & Prayer". The Times. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  28. ^ "Drowned in Sound's Favourite Albums of 2017". Drowned in Sound. November 22, 2017. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  29. ^ "NME's Albums of the Year 2017". NME. 23 November 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  30. ^ "Exclaim!'s Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums". Exclaim. 5 December 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  31. ^ "FLIPZ on Twitter: "GSAP sold 68,594 copies 😳😳😳😳Fam madnesssss". Twitter. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  32. ^ "Stormzy defeats Rag'n'Bone Man in one of the closest chart battles in recent memory to score the Official Number 1 album". Official Charts. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  33. ^ "Ed Sheeran's Shape of You rules the Official Singles Chart for an eighth week thanks to Stormzy and Major Lazer remixes". Official Charts. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  34. ^ "BPI Music on Twitter: "He was number 1 in the midweeks and now @Stormzy1's 'Gang Signs & Prayers' has gone Silver in the UK! "". Twitter. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  35. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer". Hung Medien. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
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  38. ^ "Ultratop.be – Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
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  40. ^ "Hitlisten.NU – Album Top-40 Uge 9, 2017". Hitlisten. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
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  42. ^ "Stormzy: Gang Signs & Prayer" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
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  45. ^ "VG-lista – Stormzy". VG-lista. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  46. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  47. ^ "Sverigetopplistan - Sveriges Officiella Topplista". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 4 March 2017. Click on "Veckans albumlista".
  48. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
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  52. ^ White, Jack (3 January 2018). "The Top 40 biggest albums of 2017 on the Official Chart". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  53. ^ "End of Year Album Chart Top 100 – 2018". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  54. ^ "British album  certifications – Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 23 February 2018. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Gang Signs & Prayer in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
This page was last edited on 9 October 2019, at 19:02
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