Stormzy describing reading and learning as “gangster” is exactly what we want to hear.
Stormzy is having a big effect on all of us right now, regardless of your age, gender, race and background. His politically charged Glastonbury performance, which highlighted the Grenfell tragedy and rise in knife violence, spoke for a whole generation. His scholarships for black students to study at Cambridge University addressed the fact that it hardly admits BAME applicants from low-income backgrounds. And his Merky Books publishing imprint invites new writing talent to shine in the spotlight. He’s even spoken out about the racism against Meghan Markle.
Basically: when Stormzy speaks, people listen. And there’s usually a good reason why.
Most recently, Stormzy gave an important lesson about education during a visit to a school. The grime artist made a surprise visit to a school in Norwood, south London, where Merky Books authors were taking part in a discussion.
Addressing the children, he told them that reading and learning is the most “gangster” thing they could ever do.
“I always find it important for me to use my voice to let you know that, as much as people think that rappers and footballers and celebrities, and all of that stuff […] is a sick thing to do, trust me: learning, education and reading is a much more powerful and beneficial thing.”
He continued: “This is coming from someone who’s done both. I was in 6th form, I went to college, I didn’t get to university because… yeah [laughs] exactly. Without getting into it I wasn’t as smart as you guys. I didn’t get there through the 6th form system.”
He then added: “This coming from someone who’s been an academic and been a rapper and I just need to let you guys know about the importance of books and reading and studying. Because that is way more gangster than anything anyone else is going to act like is important.
Stormzy concluded: “I promise you there’s nothing more gangster, there’s nothing more ‘G’d’ up than being a well-read, well-educated young person.”
Stormzy’s own love of books is clear, as he is set to star in the TV adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses series. The show is set to air this year, and the BBC has already released a teaser trailer (along with the first glimpse of Killing Eve 3).
Speaking about Blackman, who is his favourite children’s writer, Stormzy has previously said that she “showed me just how amazing storytelling could be”. It was also announced that Merky Books will publish the author’s memoir.
With all this in mind, we have a feeling that the school pupils who listened to Stormzy’s mini lecture will be reading even more than before.