Music maker Stormzy: 'I’ve always made sure that I don’t promote the negative'
When Stormzy told the students of a Dublin school this week that for them "the sky is the limit" he was firing them up with the fierce ambition that has seen him become a superstar of the grime scene.
The south London crossover rapper has achieved phenomenal success against the odds. He grew up Michael Omari Jr in poor circumstances with his mum, two older sisters and younger brother sharing cramped conditions. Home, he says, "was just somewhere I slept."
Stormzy's dad wasn't around, and he told the students of Pobailscoil Neasáin in Dublin's Baldoyle in an exclusive video: "I came from a very underprivileged background. Growing up I didn't have many role models, I didn't have many people I thought I could look at and aspire to be similar to."
Seeing him ruling Glastonbury like a king last year or turning on a spectacular performance at the BRIT awards earlier this year, it's easy to forget where he's come from.
Speaking about the inspirational video for his new single Superheroes, Stormzy says: "I wanted to make this video to basically inspire you guys, to let you know that the sky is the limit, to let you know that all those things inside of you make you incredible. For me, I rap, I make music, I'm an artist… and that's my superpower."
As a kid, Stormzy would MC in the school playground or on his local estate with his friends, not realising that he had a special talent that would lift him into the superleague of the showbiz world.
"I didn't really understand that it was a talent," he says. "I didn't understand that that's what makes me unique, that's what makes me extraordinary, that's what makes me a superhero, so I hope that this video inspires you guys, it makes you understand that talent inside of you does make you a superhero, and I don't want you to shy away from your talent. I want you to embrace all those things inside of you, embrace your talents, be the best that you can be.
"If you're intelligent, if you're clever, if you're passionate, if there's something that you love… if you know how to play football, if you know how to rap, if you know how to sing, if you know how to figure out an equation - despite the colour of your skin, where you come from, despite your religion, despite whatever it is you feel might be holding you back, you are a superhero."
Stormzy has also had to cope in life with depression, describing the misery of it with honesty in one of his tracks, Lay me Bare, from his Gang Signs and Prayer album.
It contains the lyrics 'like man'a get low sometimes, so low sometimes, Airplane mode on my phone sometimes, Sitting in my house with tears in my face, Can't answer the door to my bro sometimes.'
He hopes that by speaking out it will help others in dark places after being hesitant at first to tell the world.
"What convinced me to talk about it was the fact that if there's anyone out there going through it, I think to see that I went through it would help," he told Channel 4.
"I feel like I always come across confidently and happy, and I've always made sure that I don't promote the negative… I just present myself in a positive way so I can spread that.
"So people will be looking at me, thinking I don't go through nothing. So for me to just let people know, 'no, I do. I do go through that'. I thought that was important for people to know that."
Despite his success, Stormzy admits that he occasionally finds fame difficult to handle. "The spotlight…sometimes it scares the sh*t out of me," he adds.Stormzy's new single, Superheroes, is taken from his current album, Heavy Is The Head.