Stormzy opens up on the ‘unbearable pain’ facing family of Chris Kaba

GQ Men Of The Year Celebration 2022 in association with BOSS (Jenny Brough)
GQ Men Of The Year Celebration 2022 in association with BOSS (Jenny Brough)

Stormzy has spoken of the “unbearable pain” facing the family of Chris Kaba - the black man shot dead by police in south London in September - in a new interview.

Speaking to British GQ ahead of becoming the publication’s fifth Men of the Year cover star, the grime artist also opened up about his upbringing in Croydon, his breakup with Maya Jama, and what success means to him now.

Mr Kaba, a 24-year-old father-to-be, was shot in the head by a Metropolitan Police officer in Streatham Hill following a car stop in September sparking protests across the country. Stormzy attended one of the rallies, which saw protesters march to Scotland Yard in central London.

Speaking to GQ a week after the march Stormzy, 29, said: “Away from all the coverage there’s a reality, an unbearable pain that his mother and his family have to live that gets lost quite often. You can feel it.”

Speaking at the rally, the Vossi Bop singer offered support to Mr Kaba’s grieving family and urged protesters to have “stamina” as they pursued justice.

The Metropolitan Police has suspended the officer who shot Mr Kaba, while a homicide investigation is underway. Police watchdog the IOPC is also carrying out a probe which will look at whether Mr Kaba’s race influenced actions taken by the police.

Rapper Chris Kaba, who was shot by armed officers (PA Media)
Rapper Chris Kaba, who was shot by armed officers (PA Media)

An inquest opened at Southwark coroner’s court last month heard how an Audi Mr Kaba was driving on September 5 had been linked to a firearms incident the previous day, leading to it being tailed by police and then eventually stopped,

The car was was hemmed in by two police cars and witnesses said unarmed Mr Kaba attempted to ram his way free before he was shot.

Stormzy’s cover interview with GQ also saw him reflect on his childhood in Croydon.

“I realised, especially growing up in south London in the environment I grew up in, there’s never going to be a time anyone encourages man to go deal with his feelings,” he said.

“That’s a very adult thing to think - I’m gonna go deal with my life and my character with who I am and who I want to grow to be. There is power in vulnerability.”

He added that his definition of success has evolved into something more family-centric over the years, saying: “My version of success now requires a man: not just more music and more money.

Stormzy performs on stage during the MTV Europe Music Awards 2022 held at PSD Bank Dome on November 13 in Duesseldorf, Germany (Getty Images for MTV)
Stormzy performs on stage during the MTV Europe Music Awards 2022 held at PSD Bank Dome on November 13 in Duesseldorf, Germany (Getty Images for MTV)

“Now it means taking care of my family, having children, having a wife, even understanding marriage and raising kids, and that requires a man.”

He added that his breakup with presenter Maya Jama in 2020 following a four-year relationship showed him he was still “a boy”.

“I’d never experienced a breakup and the feelings that come with a breakup,” he said. “And I never wanted to ever be in a position again where I felt what I was feeling.

 (Jenny Brough)
(Jenny Brough)

“Because it showed me that I was a boy. And I do not want to go any further as a boy. I’ve seen how that manifests in other people. And I don’t want to be like that.”

Stormzy last week became the first headliner to be announced for All Points East in 2023, when it was revealed he will curate a whole day of the festival in Victoria Park.

Read the full GQ article here. The December/January issue of British GQ is available on newsstands and via digital download on November 29.