Stormzy has said the creation of his new album was “really stressful”, but that processing personal issues and his relationships had felt “therapeutic”.
The grime star, 29, released his highly anticipated third studio album This Is What I Mean on Friday, with critics and fans praising the genre-spanning 12-track offering.
Appearing as a co-host on Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 show on Monday, the Croydon-born rapper spoke about how it felt to make the record, which he created much of during a specially curated music camp on Osea Island, in an estuary in Essex, with producers and fellow musicians.
He told Whiley: “It felt very refreshing and it felt therapeutic.
“A lot of artists say that it felt like therapy but it’s never really felt like that for me. I don’t know why but when I’ve heard artists talk about that I’m like ‘Ah that’s interesting’.
“For me, it’s just always been something I do and something I love but it’s never felt like going in and having therapy.
“And I think this time, it did feel like that, it felt like I had to be really still and be really self-reflective.”
He added: “In hindsight, there were times when it was really stressful.
“So my memory of the camp, it was really beautiful, we went away, we made the album, but when I get into the intricate details of it there was a really stressful time and a time when everything was weighing quite heavy.”
The rapper said it is natural for anyone to find confronting emotions and unpacking things about themselves a “tiresome task”, but at the end of it he could breathe.
He recalled how his year from 2019 to 2020, which was dominated by the release of his second album Heavy Is The Head and his classic set at Glastonbury, was so busy that he did not have time to deal with personal matters but after, he was forced to address them.
“I think, as soon as that was all over and I had to go make some music, I was like ‘damn’,” he said.
“My relationship, my relationship with my dad, my relationship with God, my relationship with myself, loads of things just came out and it’s just here…
“For me, it was ‘I’ve got to talk about this’. That’s just my job and that’s what it means to be an artist and if I’m committed to being an artist, I can’t fabricate it.
“With any great artists, I’m sure like your Princes of the world and your Adeles and your Whitneys and all these amazing artists, sometimes they might feel things and then think ‘I would rather not go into this Pandora’s box, I’d rather not confront it’ but it’s our job and it’s also our superpower.
“To be vulnerable and to take feeling and to take what we’re going through and make music out of it. No matter how naked that makes you feel.”
The album is described as a “heartfelt” collection and explores personal topics including forgiving his absent father and his feelings of paranoia, depression and self-doubt.
It comes three years after his 2019 album and it is already going head to head for this week’s top spot in the Official Albums Chart against Sir Cliff Richard’s new festival record.