The live rendition of the track, which comes off his sophomore album Heavy Is the Head, marks Stormzy’s U.S. television debut.
The rapper appeared on a mostly dark stage, accompanied by a choir and a live band to showcase the emotional song. The song — produced MJ Cole and Jimmy Napes, who co-wrote the track along with Stormzy — reflects on power as the rapper offers a twist on the phrase “heavy is the head that wears the crown.”
Stormzy dropped Heavy Is the Head, a follow-up to his 2017 debut Gang Signs & Prayer, in December. The rapper told Rolling Stone last year that his writing process has evolved over time.
“With GS&P, that was always going to be a South London story,” he said. “It was 23 years of my life. Up until that moment, that was my whole story. Whereas Heavy Is the Head was me going to the studio and asking, who am I, what do I have to say, what do I need to say? It’s all these truths, it’s all these stories about who I am today, bearing the brunt of being Stormzy. Yes, I feel like the best MC in the fucking world, but I also feel like I can’t take all of this.”
He added, “I wanted it to be a true musical reflection of everything I’m feeling, everything I stand for and all the stories I have to tell right now. And to me that’s always going to mean a vast palette because I like to think I’ve got a vast personality. I’m not just a hard-hitting rapper. I like beautiful songs and beautiful melody.”