Stormzy has unveiled a stripped-back rework of ‘Hide and Seek’, featuring BBC Sound of 2023 winners FLO – you can hear it below.
The alternative version of the top 10 track is produced by AOD and features the up-and-coming London three-piece, who yesterday (January 5) were announced as having topped the BBC’s annual poll of rising stars and, in doing so, became the first group to win both that award and the BRIT Rising Star prize, with both achievements coming within a year of their debut single ‘Cardboard Box’.
The mellow reimagining of Hide & Seek is in line with the softer and more spiritual sound of the record from which the original is taken, This Is What I Mean. The third album from Stormzy, it completed a hat-trick of UK number one albums for the London rapper, after 2017’s Gang Signs & Prayer and 2019’s Heavy Is the Head when it topped the countdown last November. The album version of ‘Hide & Seek’ has racked up over 60 million streams globally.
In a four-star review, Rolling Stone UK’s Emmanuel Onapa called This Is What I Mean “a huge step forward and one of the year’s best albums,” saying that it represents “the sound of an artist simply being their true authentic self as they reflect on their remarkable life so far.” He will bring the record to London’s Victoria Park on August 18 for a massive headline slot at All Points East festival, which is being billed as ‘This Is What We Mean Day’ and will be his only UK live performance of 2023.
Meanwhile, FLO saw off competition from Fred again.., Nia Archives, Cat Burns and Gabriels to top the BBC’s annual forecast of the major breakthrough artists of the next 12 months. The news was broken to them by Stormzy himself in a video message. “It’s been amazing to watch you guys break out this year and be the stars that you are, so keep shining,” he said. “I know that we’re gonna see you guys for the next 10, 15, 20 years.”
Comprised of Jorja Douglas, Renée Downer and Stella Quaresma, the trio outlined their musical vision in an interview with Rolling Stone UK last year. “I feel like [our music] takes the best bits from now and the 90s; it’s struck the perfect balance,” said Quaresma. “We want people to be surprised and feel like we’re bringing something back from when music was quality.”