'He's a very special talent': Atlantic's Alec Boateng on the chart-topping return of Stormzy

'He's a very special talent': Atlantic's Alec Boateng on the chart-topping return of Stormzy

It’s been a good few weeks for Atlantic with the No.1 return of Stormzy and, of course, a couple of big wins at the Music Week Awards (Promotions Team and A&R Award). 

Vossi Bop, the lead single from the grime star’s sophomore album, is currently at No.1 though it’s facing a strong challenge from Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran. After two weeks, Vossi Bop has already racked up equivalent sales of 179,142, according to the Official Charts Company. 

“It’s incredible,” Alec Boateng, Atlantic co-head of A&R, told Music Week. “So much has gone into [the record], it’s just a measure of an artist who really cares about their craft, and an artist who’s been supported by a culture and nurtured by everyone. It’s a real celebration for Atlantic as well, everyone’s thrown something into it.

“For the video, our video department and the team really wrestled into that, he’s got incredible managers, the #Merky team are incredible. So it’s just a real team effort. I’m really happy for him because he really pours his heart and soul into the music, so to be recognised with such an amazing chart position and numbers is incredible.”

The single is the first release since Stormzy signed to Atlantic as part of a deal with the #Merky label.

“He’s a very special talent,” said Boateng. “I remember meeting him years ago and knowing that this guy was going to make a difference as a person, and knowing that he was going to do it through music. He has a very special talent and I really think it’s going to shine and come through with the album. 

“It’s an important [record] for where Britain is at, at the moment. He stands for a lot, he’s a man who wants to make a difference for all the right reasons through his incredible talent. That’s something that I’ve wanted to support in him from the moment I met him. He makes you care that extra bit more, he makes you stay a few hours later, he makes you want to get up early in the morning to make sure everything sounds right. He makes you want him to have the success.”

I’m really happy for Stormzy because he really pours his heart and soul into the music

Alec Boateng

Stormzy’s sophomore album title and release date are yet to be confirmed, though he is booked to headline Glastonbury next month.

The record is “being perfected because it’s worth the wait,” said Boateng.

“The album is not what a lot of people expect, it’s really personal, it’s raw, it’s funny – it’s all the things he is with music excellence,” he told Music Week

He added: “We’re super excited about the start of this campaign but it’s just the beginning of what’s to come from Stormzy. A lot of blood, sweat and tears has gone into this album. It’s rare you get the opportunity to work with one of the best artists of their generation, Stormzy has grown musically over the last two years and people will see that when they hear the album. Every avenue has been exhausted in the recording process to create a body of work that shows that he is, and will always be, a master of his art.”

Stormzy’s 2017 debut Gang Signs & Prayer broke streaming records, won the BRIT Album Of The Year award and produced hit singles. It has now re-entered the Top 100 and has sales to date of 378,911, according to the Official Charts Company.

Atlantic GM Katie White recently told Music Week that the Stormzy campaign would be the first big test for the new label structure.

“Katie, Luke [Tipping, creative director] and all those people have slotted in brilliantly, the evidence of it has been the Stormzy success,” said Boateng. “It’s a family atmosphere, so I hope that we’ve made it easy for the new people to slot in. There’s a call for excellence at Atlantic as well, everyone’s got to be really good at what they do.”

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