Obsession with Stormzy continues. He is just the combination of voice, cadence, poetry, personality and presence. I’ve discovered doing the research, that to work as a powerful force, he works in conjunction with other artists. He launched a writing competition this year for example, for writers who’d not likely be heard by mainstream publishers. Two women won the award this year and have secured UK publishing mentorships. Stormzy has indicated that for him to work, he needs to give back to his community. It’s clear Stormzy’s creatively nailed it. I wonder if this is the central mechanism by which artists function. The absolute need for creative feedback and inspiration. Like breath itself.
There is another grime artist we love and watched together at Glasto this year. It’s Dave. He and Fredo released a track, Funky Friday which became the first British rap song to get to number one in the UK charts. I remember the first time I heard it – Delph, Lu and I were in the car heading from Sarah’s. She lives in the middle of nowhere, proper Welsh hills, grass growing in the middle of the track when the urban link for Funky Friday started playing through our little car radio.
‘At this age, how are them man still hatin’?’
You know those songs you remember where you were when you first heard them? I had it with The Fugees Killing Me Softly. In 1996, the song woke me up on my radio alarm clock. Remember those? Mixed feelings about bringing them back. Still, when I hear Killing Me Softly now, I go straight back to the moment I first heard it – the goosebumps, the absolute treat of being human. And I’d never have experienced it without the radio alarm clock. Hearing Funky Friday was like this too. Except this time I was enjoying it with my kids… and it wasn’t part of an alarm.
These grime guys are our guys. It’s a guilty pleasure that I feel more proud of being British getting older. Travelling too contributes to this feeling – another unexpected outcome of visiting other places. Family honesty was the other unexpected outcome. Jack’s niece, Ellie, feels it too. She began travelling when we stole her onto Quest. Three days before our Bay of Biscay crossing to Spain, 20-year old Ellie came down to us to say goodbye. Somehow we asked her if she wanted to come along, she said yes, went home to get her passport and the deal was done. She turned up with a small rucksack with all her possessions. I’d been packing Quest for months and realised I’d forgotten to pack my socks. I lusted after that rucksack. Ellie left Quest eventually a couple of thousand miles later, but she hasn’t stopped travelling since she left. Four years later, she’s been to more countries than we’ve sailed to, working her way through hostels and visiting friends.
‘Travelling makes me like coming home more,’ she said as we walked together on Sunday summer’s afternoon. ‘It just makes me appreciate where I live.’
Our spirits grow by force of comparison, by exploration and the experience of seeing how different people live. Stormzy says he needs to collaborate and creatively draw from fellow artists around him. ‘You’re never too big for the boot’.