Book Review: Stormzy – Rise Up: The #Merky story so far

Wow. This book exceeded all my expectations. It left me inspired, and full of positive energy I needed to channel into this piece of writing.

I finished this book in a week, choosing to read it on my commute rather than my usual pastimes of music or a Netflix episode. To put this into perspective, it took me 2 and a half months to finish the last book I read, of a similar length. This book made me want to read it, and I put it down begrudgingly at the end of each train journey. I’d say it was impossible to put down, but I’d be lying – instead, it was a joy to read it, put it down and be excited at the prospect of getting to continue reading it later on.

Rise Up surprised me in many ways. I had preconceived ideas that this would be a simple autobiography, an A-Z of Stormzy’s life from when he was born to where he’s ended up… I couldn’t have been more wrong. What we have instead is an insightful and creative book which tells the story of Stormzy’s career so far, told through his and the rest of the #Merky team’s eyes.

I was instantly attracted to the layout of the book; in the words of the book’s co-writer and editor, Jude Yawson, the aim of Rise Up was to ‘present the story of team #Merky as faithfully as [they] could’. He interviewed all 13 members of team #Merky and transcribed them. They were cut up and sewn back together into a sort of narrative divided into four parts – preparation, work, execution, and ambition, which perfectly split the book into a logical, chronological order.

Each interview snippet, which can range from a few lines to a couple of pages, starts with the name of the person, and goes on to talk about that person’s experience at a certain point in the 4 years that Rise Up covers. The genius thing is that the transcribed words match up with what other people were talking about – it’s hard to believe this book isn’t one, continuous conversation between the 14 of them in one room. Huge credit to Yawson for pulling off this narrative from the content he gathered.

From the development of the #Merky team and brand, and the humble beginnings, to the creation of Gang Signs & Prayer, and the stardom Stormzy now finds himself in. He’s so honest, and we get an insight into what it’s like going from an unknown artist to a household name in just a few years.

These interviews are inspiring, motivating, brutally honest and full of passion, which I can guarantee will rub off on you, it’s something you’ll take forward into your current projects as soon as you put this book down. I hadn’t written anything for fun in 2 months, and having just finished Rise Up, here I am, writing again. It’s no joke when I say the words in this book can have a real effect on your inspiration, motivation and creativity.

The contributors are all people close to Stormzy – it tells the stories of how they met, how they came to be involved, and depict the hard work and dedication that has led to their success. It’s incredible, as someone who knows nothing about the music industry, to get this behind-the-scenes view of the team behind the name. We all know and love Stormzy, but these inspiring and hard-working people are helping him every step of the way and it’s wonderful to read and learn how it all fits together.

After reading this, you will dream of having a team like that of #Merky, the ethos and drive that they have is awe-inspiring, captivating, and most of all, infectious. It makes you want to go out into the world and pursue your dreams, throw aside your doubts and get stuck in to your work.

Rise Up is a sensational book, that shows Stormzy to be the authentic, talented, hard-working artist we know, whilst providing a valuable and eye-opening insight into what goes on behind the scenes. You find out about Stormzy’s creative process, and meet the incredible brains behind his projects, music, touring, marketing and management to name but a few, and is packed with inspiring quotes and motivational messages from the team.

It’s a fascinating and addictive read, and with the inclusion of photos from different stages over the past few years, becomes an immersive experience too.

I simply can’t recommend this book enough – to fans of Stormzy, it’s a must-read. For anyone who appreciates good music, good writing, and intelligent, inspired words, well, this book is for you.

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