Director Nicholas Cullinan defines rapper as having ‘ a significant influence on today’s British culture ‘
In what its director describes as a “contemporary intervention” a photographic portrait of Stormzy is hung in the National Portrait Gallery.
On display from today, the portrait by Mark Mattock features the Croydon rapper wearing a crown made up of the letters HITH; standing for Heavy Is the Head, the name of his new album to be released on Friday, December 13. He is photographed gazing at the stab-proof vest he wore at the Glastonbury festival in 2019 for his headline performance.

Stormzy said that it was “nothing but an honour” to be “exhibited in a gallery which exhibits so many incredible portraits of those from British history”.
Gallery director Nicholas Cullinan said that he was delighted to show the portrait “as a contemporary intervention in our historic galleries, and hoped to obtain the painting for the permanent collection of the gallery.
Stormzy has undoubtedly had a significant influence on British culture today, both through his music and working with minority groups and teenagers, and we hope our guests will enjoy the juxtaposition of this new work with historical paintings of influential Victorian-era figures, from politicians, royalty and revolutionaries to artists, sporting heroes and singers.
It’s not Stormzy’s first portrait to appear at the gallery. This year, the NPG acquired two photographs by Olivia Rose, a solo portrait of Stormzy and another along with his mother Abigail Owuo, the former is currently on display in room 29 of the gallery.
For Stormzy’s second album, excitement is high. His first single, Vossi Bop, went straight to No 1 in the UK charts and spent nine weeks in the Top 5; a second single, Crown, reached No 4, featuring the album title Shakespeare-riffing lyric: “Heavy is the head wearing the crown.”
A third single, Own It, is at No 3 at the time. The track is Stormzy’s second year’s collaboration with Ed Sheeran, spending five weeks at No 1 in September with their single Take Me Back to London.
Stormzy announced this week a 55-day world tour starting on February 10, including dates in Europe, Asia, Australasia, North America and Africa, including 13 dates in the UK.


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