Stormzy seemingly dialed every number in his phone for his standalone single and video “Mel Made Me Do It” last month, co-starring with the likes of Jose Mourinho and featuring narration from Michaela Coel. The iconic UK rapper kept that same energy for “Hide & Seek,” the official lead single for his forthcoming third album This Is What I Mean due next month.
The hypnotic song was produced by P2J and PRGRSHN and gives the runway to evocative vocals from British singer Ayanna and Afrobeats artists Oxlade and Teni. Oxlade handles the chorus — reminding Stormzy’s love, “Seeking and hiding / You know where to find me, babe” — and Teni’s angelic tone is masterfully layered in Stormzy’s verses and the bridge. Stormzy cuts through with his signature visceral flow, begging his love not to run from the mess they’ve made because their foundational love is strong enough to love: “We built this all wrong, I’ll takе blame / But instead of us tearing it down, wе’ll rearrange.”
The cinematic music video was directed by Meji Alabi, intimately chronicling Stormzy with Top Boy actress Saffron Hocking. The depicted relationship is endearingly worn in. They playfully share the bathroom, and later in the bathroom, Stormzy holds back her hair while she’s sick. Saffron joins Stormzy on the couch while he plays video games, then she goofily dances in her robe. Stormzy is even an Instagram boyfriend in the living room before their night out. Remnants of their bond are lingering when they catch each other out at the club after their presumptive split, as the video ends with the same inside joke with which it began.
Stormzy announced earlier this week that This Is What I Mean is on the way by revealing the title and tracklist on his recently wiped Instagram. The University of Exeter honorary graduate detailed how the album came to be during an Osea Island music camp in a statement via press release.
“When you hear about music camps, they always sound intense and sombre,” Stormzy said. “People saying: ‘We need to make an album.’ ‘We need to make some hit records.’ But this felt beautifully free. We’re all musicians, but we weren’t always doing music. Some days we played football or walked around taking pictures. And the bi-product [sic] to that was very beautiful music. Because when you marry that ethos with world class musicians and the best producers, writers and artists in the world, and we’re in one space, that’s a recipe for something that no one can really imagine. You can’t even calculate what that’s going to come up with. And it came up with a big chunk of this album.
This Is What I Mean follows the albums Heavy Is The Head (2019) and Gang Signs & Prayer (2017) in Stormzy’s groundbreaking discography.
Watch the “Hide & Seek” video above.
This Is What I Mean is out 11/25 via 0207/Def Jam. Pre-save it here.