Following the huge success of his debut album Gang Signs & Prayer, independent artist Stormzy has made the move to a major label by partnering with Atlantic Records UK.
The JV between his #Merky label and Atlantic was announced via Stormzy’s Instagram, including a group shot featuring the rapper and his team, including manager Tobe Onwuka, along with Warner Music’s Max Lousada and Atlantic UK president Ben Cook.
Gang Signs & Prayer was released in partnership with Warner’s ADA for distribution and label services. The new deal strengthens the links with Warner and marks Stormzy's shift to becoming a major label artist.
A statement from Warner also announced plans for the joint development of a roster of new talent with the label team at #Merky.
Max Lousada, CEO, recorded Music, WMG and Chairman & CEO, WMUK, said: “Stormzy and #Merky are a cultural force whose music makes everyone listen. Talent, truth, energy and relevance - they represent music at its most powerful. We’re proud to have them in the family.”
Ben Cook, president, Atlantic Records UK, said: “We’ve been friends with Stormzy and Tobe for a while now, it’s been exciting to see the extraordinary impact Stormzy’s music has had and the iconic figure he has become. #Merky are now key players, and we’re thrilled to join forces. Together we’re going to take Stormzy global, and fill the #Merky roster with fresh new talent.”
Alec Boateng, A&R director, Atlantic Records UK, added: “You get into A&R to work with the best of the best and you hope you end up with special talent. Stormzy is that special talent, he’s an incredible artist and he has so much to offer the world with his music. It’s been a privilege to have had a ringside seat from the beginning of his explosive entry in the mainstream and I’m super excited about the next phase in our creative partnership - with him and the brilliant #Merky team. This is huge.”
Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer finished 10th overall in the best-selling albums of 2017 on sales of 278,174, according to the OCC.
Sales are set to swell further as the rapper is set to perform at next month’s BRIT Awards, where he’s nominated for two awards.
“It’s still streaming and selling incredibly well,” said Dan Chalmers, president of East West, Rhino and ADA, in the latest issue Music Week. “His social media footprint played a huge part, the quality of the music was groundbreaking, he’s an incredible personality.”
As well as earning a Hyundai Mercury Prize nomination, Stormzy’s reach went beyond most grime artists to include being playlisted on Radio 2.
“He’s a superstar who crosses over to so many demographics,” added Chalmers.