Julie Adenuga: Why Stormzy headlining Glastonbury means the world

People have had all these expectations, but still to this day he just does what makes sense to him. It must take courage

Julie Adenuga
Thursday 27 June 2019 09:37
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BRIT Awards 2018: Stormzy calls out Theresa May over Grenfell Tower

I met Stormzy at the Dreamer’s Disease EP launch party at Proud Camden in 2014. At that time, I’d only heard his “Second Quarter” freestyle on YouTube. Someone from his team contacted me and asked me to host his EP launch and it was a great night, I remember him being such a nice guy – something he’s always been – a well-raised young man.

Since then we’ve stayed in touch and I’ve enjoyed following his career – I think that’s why I always feel so proud of his achievements, whether it’s an award or an international campaign: it feels like it’s a win for everyone. I call him the people’s champion because he represents a lot of us in so many different ways. It’s been really great to watch his journey. People always ask me about the “Big For Your Boots” video – Stormzy texted me and said: “I know you don’t do music videos but…” and purely based on the fact he said that, it made me want to do it, so I said yes. I think it’s the only one I’ll be in, ever!

I think it’s been really important for him to take things at his own pace, because I can only imagine how overwhelming this journey must be for him. I empathise with what must be such a big weight of responsibility – I guess that’s what his new single “Crown” is about, having people counting on you to speak for them, and that’s hard to do as one person, especially at his age. So I’ve been really proud of how he’s prioritised doing the things that matter to him over everything else.

When he announced Gang Signs and Prayer and we did an interview, he said people had all these expectations of what it’d be like, but still to this day he just does what makes sense to him. It must take courage. People might assume: you’re one of the biggest artists in the country, you can do whatever you want. So I take my hat off to him for his attitude, for being the person that doesn’t always do what people expect of him. Whether that be speaking out against racial profiling, making fun of vegans or creating a scholarship for Black students at Cambridge and being an advocate for academia.

The first thing I thought when he got announced for Glastonbury was, I bet he’s really nervous. I was at his table at the Brits before his performance, and he had some kind of malfunction with his trousers before the performance and he had his infamous screwface on, because, naturally, he wants it all to be perfect and he holds these things so close to his heart. So, for Glastonbury, outside of what it means culturally (already a huge thing), on top of that you still want it to be the best thing ever!

Beats 1 presenter Julie Adenuga

I really want him to know that it’s gonna be sick! There’s no way it’s not going to be good, because he cares so much. It’s hard working out what’s going to happen on the Glastonbury stage. He had rain at the Brit Awards, so what is he gonna do now? I think we should start a little poll of what he might do, start some bets, because I’m sure it’s gonna be absolutely insane.

I don’t really care about people saying negative things about him headlining. We have so many platforms where people can say whatever they want anonymously and people can abuse that power. So, I don’t take those things seriously and I don’t think he does either, or at least I hope he doesn’t. People are possessive, and maybe if they feel they haven’t had a hand in his success then they don’t like seeing it happen. But we know and that’s all that matters.

It’s about what he’s achieved, about the fact he’s done enough for the organisers of Glastonbury to want him to headline. I’m sure he knows what it means to the people that matter, anyone else can go see another act if they don’t like him. But there are so many of us that think this means the world and that’s what matters.

Stormzy headlines the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2019 on Friday at 10.15pm. You can listen to Julie Adenuga on Apple Music’s Beats 1, Mon-Fri 2-4pm

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