Why was #GSAP Successful? A Deeper Analysis…

(Disclaimer: This blog is very long, so it’s probably not for you if you don’t have a genuine interest in Stormzy or the success of his #GSAP Album. However if you do, then feel free to read away!)

On 24th February 2017, Stormzy released his debut album Gang Signs and Prayer #GSAP, which literally took the UK by Storm! I knew it was released at that midnight so I went through Twitter and could see people already starting to talk about it. But I thought to myself “You know what, I’m just gonna go to bed and see what the hype is all about in the morning…”

Fast forward 8 hours (well I think I had an 8 hours sleep), I woke up and went on Twitter and other Social Media again to see it was mad! Now usually my morning routine consists of going for a run, doing my E.L.E.M.E.N.T.S Ab Workout (cheeky plug), before taken up some reading. But that morning was different, I just had to see what the hype was all about. I’d never bought an album off iTunes before and when I tried to buy #GSAP it didn’t work (see my screenshot below)… maybe because it was in such high demand?

But a few moments later, it worked and my life has never been the same again! (Well maybe a slight exaggeration but trust me, the album is still dope!)

Literally it is just 16 tracks of flames! I was going mad Tweeting about it on Twitter and my whole morning was taken up by listening to the wonders that came through my speakers. It’s no wonder #GSAP went to Number 1 in the Official UK Charts! Now being the Entrepreneur that I am, whenever I see success, I always like to reverse engineer it to figure out how it happened so that more of that success can be duplicated in the future.

So what was the keys behind Stormzy’s success? Why have people been going mental (include me) over #GSAP? How is it Number 1 in the Official UK Charts, selling more copies that the chart positions of 3 to 19 COMBINED*?

*Source: Austin Darbo — Senior Editor at Spotify

Here are 7 reasons why KoD thinks #GSAP has been a success and what you can do too:

1. He is a likeable character

First things first (just like how he started the first track of the album), Stormzy is a very likeable guy. Unlike other artists (or celebrities for that matter), whether they have met him or not, the public really feels like the know Michael Omari (Stormzy) as a person:

  • From bringing out his mum on his music videos, cracking jokes before freestyles (i.e. “is it thirsty if I say I’m looking for a Wicked Skeng Girl on camera” LOL),
  • Having catchy lines (i.e. “Tell my man SHUT UP!”, “#Merky” etc.)
  • Calling fans “My G’s”
  • Even taking a toke with fans like how he met up with my friend George (see pic below)

From a business point of view, this is good because it really builds a rapport with his fans, who turn into customers! So when it came to Stormy selling his album, it was a no brainer for his fans to buy it.

What can you do?

It’s simple, like people and be a nice person. You know, just be yourself. Unless you’re a dick, if so then be someone else, like Stormzy for example. I mean even after #GSAP became Number 1, Stormzy spoke to his fans on Snapchat and used worked like “We’ve done it”, “It’s ours”, really showing how much he loves and cares about them.

*by the way, at this point my Microsoft Word kept putting a red line under the word “Stormzy” but I’ve added him to the dictionary now to avoid that because we can’t be having that level of disrespect from a Computer..*

2. He went ghost then came back

Although he admitted on Track 16: Lay Me Bare at 1 minute and 41 seconds (see bars below) that he went ghost due to personal reasons (which I salute him for disclosing), it actually assisted him better than Özil with the success of the album.

“But the years been mad I lost my way / They think I went ghost to drop my tape / Not knowing that I fell and lost my faith / like Satan please no not today”

Because he went ghost, disabling all of his Social Media accounts etc. it made people start to wonder and talk about him even more like “Where’s Stormzy? What’s he doing? What’s he up to?” It made his fans care and miss him. As they say “absence makes the heart grow fonder” or one of my favourite quotes from one of favourite books, The 48 Laws of Power — Law 16 “Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honour”. Even King MG, the YouTube Channel blowing up that informs you what’s happening in the UK Grime and Rap Scene did a few videos on Stormzy’s disappearance.

Then WHAM! February 3rd 2017 comes, Stormzy jumps back on Social Media announcing he has an album coming and people go nuts!

What can you do?

Perhaps you should follow suit. If you have a project or something that you’re working on that’s due to come out, go ghost for a while to build up anticipation and suspense, then come back like BLAOW!

3. The actual #GSAP alone!

Whether deliberate or not (I’m sure it was), when Stormzy released his album coming up, he never gave away the name, only #GSAP. This had people going bonkers, confused, wondering what the hell #GSAP stood for. I’m sure many cats were killed during this period (get it? :P) Since Stormzy refers to himself as being a problem I think the most popular assumption was that it stood for “God Sent a Problem”. This could have definitely been true because the album is 100% a problem! But either way, this not knowing #GSAP stands for and the fact it popped up in public on billboards etc. created so much curiosity that it was talked about a lot. Great marketing ploy! I had friends on Twitter who I didn’t even know liked Stormzy trying to figure it out too!

What can you do?

Have an air of mystery about you, don’t show all your cards to early. Let people Stevie Wonder what you’re up or what you’re doing and then when the time is right, show your cards.

4. Releasing a fire track during February!

One thing that really helped boost the anticipation on the album was that Stormzy released Big For Your Boots on February 2nd as a little teaser for what was to come 22 days later. And because that track is FIRE, we could only expect the other 15 tracks to also be FIRE! You know, fire breeds fire (actually I think I just made that up). But by feeding us with the bait of Big For Your Boots, we were hooked until the whole of #GSAP album came out!

What can you do?

Drip tease folk. Quite similar to number 3 above, but this time give the public snippets or pieces of what you’re working on. This will drive curiosity and build up that anticipation into their minds. Why do you think Strip Dancers work so well? Because the recipient is teased into wanting more! (Erm not that I’m speaking from personal experience of course…)

5. Great serendipities!

Some great serendipities occurred during the month of promotion that helped drive #GSAP to number 1!

(a) “Freeze, this is the Police!”

Early hours on Valentine’s Day of all days, the Metropolitan Police kicked down Stormzy’s front door, for now we know was a mistake….

Tactfully, Stormzy used this to his advantage. He received great press and media coverage from this ordeal, which provided a nice platform for him to promote his album whether he consciously did it, or not.

(b) Storm Doris

On 23rd February, the day before Stormzy’s album was to drop, Storm Doris wreaked havoc on the nation! Definitely the worst storm I’ve experienced in my lifetime.

Although a serious matter, as there were lots of destruction and even a death, some saw this as nature and the Lord God himself letting us know that there is a storm coming the following day with Stormzy dropping #GSAP!

( c) Other

I don’t think these next ones are really serendipities as I’m sure they were planned (well to be honest, I didn’t know where else to put this section) but other things that worked in Stormzy’s favour with the success of #GSAP was that he had SO much press coverage, media and PR! He was everywhere!

  • BBC Breakfast
  • Going viral on Channel 4 talking about depression
  • LBC
  • Manchester United FC
  • Signing albums at HMV Stores
  • Banging pens on Soccer Am!

You get my point! And unless you have been under a rock these past few weeks, it would have been very VERY difficult to have missed him! (After all, he is 6 ft. 6 according to WikiFame.org)

What can you do?

Keep an eye out for any serendipitous moments that can work in your favour that you can capitalise on (i.e. Fedz booting down your door or Storm Doris). Maybe even called the Police on yourself to kick down your door! (I’m joking please don’t do that). Either way, in all seriousness, have a sick marketing and PR campaign in place, getting your in front of the media as much as you can in the lead up and after you launch your whatever it is you’re doing!

6. The Rap Game (in fact the WHOLE game) endorsed it!

It was Giggs (my favourite rapper in like 08/09 times) who I first noticed this with when he released his Landlord album last year. He literally had all the big players in the UK scene endorsing his album, tweeting to their own fans to buy it and even posting photos of them in HMW buying it themselves.

But Stormzy took this too another level. And when I say another level, I mean ANOTHER LEVEL! Not only did the big hitters from the UK Grime and Rap scene endorse his debut album, he also had the likes of Adele endorsing his Album to her 4 million Twitter followers! Imagine boost that would have done for the Stormzy brand and #GSAP Album!

Even Stormzy was gassed and shocked himself!

But finally and most importantly, the success of Stormzy’s Debut Album #GSAP essentially boils down to this…

7. It’s just damn good!

As Gary Vaynerchuk puts it “no amount of marketing is going to help a s**t product” or as I like to say, “marketing can’t polish a turd”. So although my previous points were all in reference to the marketing of #GSAP mostly before it was released, it still had to be good to deliver. And to no surprise, it did just that! The bread and butter behind the success of the album, is that it is just damn good! So if you haven’t done so, GO and BUY yourself a copy of #GSAP right now! Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Stormzy, you can thank me later…

But wait!

One final thing and cheeky plug from me :D Growing up in South London (same place as Stormzy), I’ve always wanted to drop a mixtape and been working on it behind the scene… #Shhh

But because I’ve waited so long in my life to do it (I’m in my twenties now), I’ve decided that instead of bringing out a singular debut mixtape, I’m going to bring out two mixtapes! Both dropping on my birthday, so stay tuned! ;)

Thank you for reading!


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