Recommendation: Shut Up by Stormzy

If you were to approach me (and you wouldn’t, but if you did) and say you wanted to make a video with you rapping in a park surrounded by 20 of your mates, I would tell you not to do it. And that’s not a reflection on your rapping skills. I mean, you might be terrible, but that’s not the point. Even if you were really good. I would tell you it’s a really bad idea.

Specifically, I would say ‘I know where you’re coming from.’ I can see what effect you’re trying to achieve. As real as possible, all in one shot, nothing fake, nothing staged, just one charismatic performer holding the viewer’s attention for about 3 minutes.

I would say: yes, in theory, it’s a great idea. If you can pull it off. But do you have any idea how difficult that is? When you’re actually standing there, in that park, surrounded by your mates, and you don’t have any artifice to hide behind, and you’re all a bit awkward and starting to wonder if you don’t all look a bit stupid, and what if anyone you know walks by?

I love the gear shifts that Stormzy does in this video. When he starts, he’s still laughing like he’s a little embarrassed. And then he just shifts up, and just takes control of your attention.

And then… the tone just works for the whole video! None of his mates crack up, or look self-conscious, or try to overcompensate and over-pose. And he performs, kind of at lightning speed, building momentum, with no edits or breaks.

Here’s the Catch 22: in order to guarantee that you don’t fuck it up, you all really need to rehearse it, in that location, for about 10 times at the very least, to make sure it really comes across properly. But if you do rehearse it enough to be sure you nail it, it becomes obvious. The energy and spontaneity are gone.

There’s a moral to this story, I think. If you’re claiming to be something special, you better do something special.

Current Favourite Moment
And does he really fuck up at the end? And was that an accident, and they left that in? Because if that was staged I will genuinely be so disappointed. But if it wasn’t… what a great way to really emphasise that what what you just saw was done live and without a safety net.

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