7 January 2020 24 / 26 Broadmead, Bristol BS1 3HA, UK

The select few that got to meet one of the hottest music talents were overcome with emotional, as the now legendary Grime star looked to promote his new album, Heavy Is The Head

HMV, Bristol enlivened an otherwise dull Monday in Bristol yesterday, as they hosted Grime superstar Stormzy for a meet and greet with dedicated fans.

The special event at the Broadmead store, which had a limited allocation of 250 tickets, saw large crowds gather from around 9am, all hoping to catch a moment with the London born musician.

Co-ordinated in conjunction with the release of his new album, Heavy in The Head, Stormzy – who’s full birth name is Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Onari Owuo Jr. – arrived at the store shortly before 5pm, and then met with fans for over two hours, to sign copies of his new release and take selfies.

Officially his second studio album, the production through #MerkyRecords and Altlantic Records UK was officially released on 13 December 2019 and features collaborations with Aitch, Burna Boy and Ed Sheeran.

And the album has already tasted success, with it debuting at number two in the UK Album Chart, whilst lead track ‘Vossi Bop’ and recent follow up ‘Own It’ have both hit the top of the UK Singles Chart. 

The wide spread publicity and clamour for the the event is surely to act as a big boost for the music store, after they announced three store-closures at the start of the year, with a further ten stores under threat admits the continuing decline of physical music purchases.   

What makes Stormzy so special?  

From humble beginnings, Stormzy has shot to prominence within the UK over the last few years, largely owing to his undoubtable music prowess, but also as a political commentator.

Huge sets on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury and at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Middlesbrough last year has certainly helped propel the rapper of Ghanaian descent to ‘A grade status’.  

But Stormzy has also made a name for himself by speaking out on political issues, expressed both through his lyrics and on social media.

A vocal supporter of outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, GQ’s Solo Artist of the year in 2017 has courted controversy in some areas for voicing the lyrics “fuck the government and fuck Boris” (in reference towards now current Prime Minister Boris Johnson) in the aforementioned single ‘Vossi Bop’ that was released in late April.

However, it was clear from speaking to fans patiently waiting that Stormzy’s forthright political views, play a big part in his overall appeal.

This was certainly the viewpoint of Ian, owner of LongwellRecords in Keynsham, who had closed his store early on the day to come along to meet Stormzy with his daughters Mazie and Emily.

“He’s very thoughtful, very left wing, you know, but in a balanced way?” said Ian, before adding;

“The way he supported the people of the Grenfell disaster, I just think it was amazing.

“He’s obviously a multi-millionaire, but he can still put his hand out to communities and touch peoples lives, like, you know?

“He’s a positive influence in Children’s lives, definitely.”

Another fan I spoke to offered, “he’s a genuine person and individual and not afraid to stand up for what’s right.”

A further observation that could be taken from looking at those standing in-line was how Stormzy’s appeal crosses a wide range of divides, with a wide range of backgrounds, ages and outlooks visible in the queue.

Many I spoke to as I mingled with the crowd would happily cite Stormzy as being a huge influence in their own lives, referring to him as a role model, someone to look up to and a person who is able to speak to them on their level through his music.

But understandably, there were a couple of superficial answers received when enquiring with fans why they thought the man who towers at 6ft 5’ tall “was so popular?”

“Because he’s so good looking” was the conclusion of Chloe, who had been queuing with friends Anna and Libby since 10am that morning.

Chloe was by no means alone in that assessment, with other’s happy to confirm that Stormzy was “fit” when asked, whilst the youngster at the front of the queue Ashton was also able to provide with succinct clarity why he wanted to see the 26-year-old, saying “he’s sick!”

Dad Ian and daughters Mazie and Emily as they wait in-line for Stormzy outside HMV's Broadmead store in Bristol
Dad Ian and daughters Mazie and Emily as they wait in-line for Stormzy outside HMV's Broadmead store in Bristol

Speechless fans revel in their moment

Eventually, those with the hottest ticket in town were allowed into the store to meet their idol.

With press not permitted inside, try as I might, I was unable to get access myself, but I was in good company in that respect given that reporters and photographers for Bristol Live, Bristol 24/7 and the ITV News were also left to wait outside.

Round the back a throng of fans had positioned themselves by the rear entrance of the store, hoping to catch a moment with the star as he entered and they wouldn't be disappointed.

Back at the front of the store, screams of excitement could be heard from within singling Stomzy's arrival as the long queue slowly inched the way forward and past the heavily guarded front door of HMV.

And with many starting to make their way home from work or days shopping, a growing crowd of onlookers fruitlessly strained for a vantage point to what was going on out of site within the upstairs of HMV’s store.

A short while after, fans who had braved the cold and rain early in the day to get this chance, emerged from the store, tightly clutching their signed albums, with looks of astonishment and delight at what their special experience.

And in catching a word with a number of fans afterwards, the unified verdict was that their efforts had all been worth it.

Elaine, who had come down after hearing about the event on Points West was particularly taken-a-back by her encounter, claiming that she was now "Stormzy's girlfriend."

"I told Stormzy it was my Birthday today and he gave me a Birthday kiss" she explained, adding;

"Then he asked me what was the best club in Bristol.

"I couldn't think or didn't know what was the best club today in Bristol. The last time I went clubbing was 6 years ago, so I just made up a name and said 'The Marriot' and he said he'd like to join me and my friends for my Birthday night out!"

Many fans were simply too overcome with emotion for words, but Joe, who I had enticed into doing an impromptu Stormyz performance beforehand, to rave applause from those looking on, was able to get something out.

"Oh my god, it was amazing!

"I just said thank you for being such an amazing inspiration to me, you are a legend and I can't wait to come and see you in September."

And it was not hard to tell that inside, Stormzy had been full of love and time for his devoted fans, happily posing for selfies and chatting to them about wide-ranging subjects such as Fortnite and slippers,

So it was not a surprise that one interviewee, being filmed by ITV News was to offer his endorsement using a classic Bristolian phrase.

"He's a good lad."

Stormzy's HMV Tour, promoting his new album Heavy In The Head continues in Birmingham tomorrow. See for details. 


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