Thornton Heath’s Stormzy makes grime history by becoming first freestyle artist to enter Top 40

Croydon MC Stormzy made grime history this weekend when his EP Wickedskengman4 entered the charts at number 18, the first time a song of its kind has made it into the official top 20.

The release is the highest new entry in the national charts and the unsigned 22-year-old from Thornton Heath was thrilled with the achievement.

He tweeted: “I can’t even speak right now. Too emotional.

“WickedSkengMan 4 charted at no.18 in the official UK Charts.”

Although Meridian Dan’s April 2014 grime track German Whip peaked at 13th in the charts it had a more traditional arrangement with verses and a chorus. Whereas Stormzy’s release differs to Meridian Dan’s because it is a freestyle with no chorus and no verses, only consistent rapping over an instrumental.

Not many will have predicted the release to be anywhere near the top 40, but thanks to Stormzy’s increasing fan base, who helped sell out the his first headline show in under five minutes, the MC has made history in a genre lacking in mainstream exposure.

The MOBO award winner was adamant that his EP could chart but knew it would be a challenge, notably because he is unsigned with no professional PR representation which makes competing with the likes of Justin Bieber nigh impossible.

Instead he has had to rely on the influence of Twitter, YouTube, social media, the support from his peers in the music industry and his loyal fans.

“A lot of people don’t understand the struggles that come with trying to chart,” he explained in a recent interview in i-D.

“A viral YouTube freestyle with no radio play by an unsigned grime artist competing with massive records that are being spun on daytime radio 30-40 times a day, being broadcast to tens of millions of people, is a massive task,” he explained.

It’s been a good summer for South London hip-hop and grime musicians.

Krept and Konan, who feature in the video of WickedSkengman4, who also hail from Thornton Heath, signed for legendary hip hop label Def Jam in June.

Grime freestyles do have precedent in the charts dating back to 2011 when Tottenham MC JME got within ten sold copies of a Top 40 spot with  two-and-a-half minute freestyle 96 F***ries.

Image and video courtesy of Stormzy TV via YouTube, with thanks

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