Hotly off the back of achieving his third, consecutive #1 album with his critically praised record ‘This Is What I Mean’ in December, today British megastar Stormzy returns with ‘Toxic Trait’; a 3 and a half minute whip-smart, searing and boastful masterclass in MC’ing. With remarkable punchlines reminiscent of his 2022 viral offering, ‘Mel Made Me Do It’, the track features fellow British rapper Fredo and also arrives with Stormzy’s well-known close confidant, Santan (AKA British rapper, Dave) on production duties.
Known for pushing boundaries with his visuals, Stormzy’s new single is accompanied by an impressive and captivating video directed by British Director Femi Ladi. With a focus on societal toxic traits, the video fictionally contextualises a plethora of toxic situations, honing in on gambling, violence and the glorification of luxury lifestyles, with a further signal to the 1900 pidgin-style saying, ‘monkey-see, monkey-do. During multiple junctures, we see nods to significant, historical cultural moments from over the years, one of which being Muhammed Ali’s 1968 Esquire Magazine cover and Kehinde Wiley’s prominent painting, ‘A Ship Of Fools’. Breaking mid-way, the video then cuts to a therapy scene between Fredo and his therapist; none other than TV royalty, Alison Hammond. The masterful video concludes with a group-therapy session which features further cameos from a range of British figureheads including Ivorian Doll, Wretch 32 and Specs Gonzalez.
Speaking on the visual, director Femi stated “After listening to the lyrics, I wanted to have fun with this video. I liked the idea of bringing a Renaissance-style painting to life, whilst still feeling grounded in the world of Stormzy. We collaborated on all the scenarios together which was great – as well as being able to bring in the likes of Fredo and Alison Hammond for their own toxic therapy sessions!” Filmed in London earlier this year, the majority of the visual was shot on a high-speed, cinema robot camera; a camera which is capable of horizontal and vertical movement speeds of up to 2 metres per second.
“There’s a difference between doing music at 22 and when you’re about to turn 30,” Stormzy recently said in an interview for the cover of Dazed Magazine’s summer issue. “It’s the kind of peace and stability and stillness you can only get from maturity. You lose all the nervous shivers and the anxiety; you shake it off because now you’re a grown man coming into your skin.”
Britain’s national treasure is ever-present with the crown still firmly placed upon his head. Listen to Stormzy’s new single ‘Toxic Trait’ feat. Fredo below.