Grime isn’t a genre known for it’s breathtaking vocal performances. Sure, your average English spitter has to have great breath control to keep up with the skittering, high-energy beats, but actually being able to sing isn’t a requirement. Ascendant MC Stormzy showed off his pipes with a cover of Frank Ocean’s “Godspeed” during a stop at BBC 1Xtra Live Lounge and proved that he deserves every ounce of the hype he’s receiving.
Of course, anyone paying attention would already know that Stormzy could sing — and his debut album Gang Signs & Prayer landing at No. 1 on the U.K. charts suggests that quite a few people are. His album is full of softer, sung interludes and choral arrangements like “Blinded By Your Grace” and “21 Gun Salute” — which he also performed — that suggest that Stormzy is the versatile English MC that Drake low-key wants to be. And his performance of “Bad Boys” alongside fellow English breakout JHus proves that he can still come with street records when he’s done crooning.
But removing all of his back-up and guests to perform a song that has to be carried by the vocals is a bold move. And Stormzy pulled it off. Listen to his full performance up top and stick around to the 11:30 mark for the stunning cover off of our pick for last year’s Album of the Year.