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When he was 19, bored and miserable, working at an oil refinery, Stormzy decided it was time to try harder to get his music noticed. Although some people thought grime was rude and rough and
the sort of music you couldn’t play on the radio, he wanted everyone to hear his songs. So he released a collection
of tracks called 168: The Mixtape, and followed it up the
next year with a record, Dreamers Disease, which won him
a MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Award. Then he was invited
to perform on the TV show Later . . . With Jools Holland. This was the first time an unsigned artist had ever been on the show! Stormzy was on his way to the top.
When his freestyle single “Shut Up" entered the Top 40 in 2015, Stormzy started a campaign to get it to Christmas Number One. It made it to number eight – incredibly impressive for a freestyle track!
In 2017, Stormzy’s first full-length album, Gang Signs & Prayer,
was released, and was an instant UK Number One. Two years later, in 2019, Stormzy became the first Black solo artist to headline Glastonbury, the UK’s most famous music festival. Later in 2019, he released his second album, Heavy Is The Head. This gave Stormzy his first Number One single, “Vossi Bop”.
 While playing his Glastonbury set, Stormzy’s earpieces broke – he couldn’t hear anything, but just had to carry on performing. When he came offstage, he was so afraid that he’d done a terrible job that he cried – much to the surprise of the festival organisers. His show had been a huge success!
By now, Stormzy had achieved many amazing things, earned a lot of money and brought the love of grime music to people who had never heard it before. Looking back at his childhood, and realising many talented Black children were missing out on their chances to shine, he decided to use his fame and money to do something about it. He set up a scholarship for Black students to study at the University of Cambridge and started #Merky Books with the publisher Penguin Random House, to publish books and poetry by writers whose voices aren’t often heard. In 2020, when people around the world protested against racism, Stormzy pledged to donate £10 million to anti-racist charities.

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