Kicking up a Stormzy

16 March 2017 | Tom Carter

It’s been bad PR for NME this week as Stormzy was used on its front cover without his permission, as the magazine focused its latest edition on depression.

The picture on the cover suggested that NME had conducted an interview with Stormzy to hear his thoughts, but according to the grime star, the wording in the article was taken from another interview all together. Using his photo on the front cover suggested that he’d sanctioned its use, but from his reaction, he clearly didn’t do so.

When NME tweeted out the article Stormzy tweeted the account directly with “it is kool to use me as a posterboy for such a sensitive issue without permission? You lot have been begging me to be on your cover”.

After quite a lot of tweeting by Stormzy, where he detailed his unhappiness at being the focal point for an article on a sensitive issue, NME finally responded with “We were inspired by your words and wanted to use them as a springboard to talk about depression and how it shouldn’t be taboo.”

According to Stormzy’s Twitter timeline, depression has been one of the hardest things for him to talk about, so he’s reluctant to see his words used in a capacity that doesn’t have his direct input. 

He’s also apparently refused interviews with NME in the past (for whatever reasons those may be), so has taken a very dim view of the magazine taking the opportunity to make him its cover star without getting his agreement.

Stormzy has a lot of fans and a large online following who are probably all going to take his side in this, so it’s not a great reflection on NME.

The fact that the article is trying to shine a positive light on depression has fallen by the wayside in light of the fallout, which is a real shame considering it’s a serious issue that does need addressing.

Kudos to NME for trying to do the right thing by talking about depression, but next time it seems it needs to be done in the right manner. I'm sure they had the necessary copyright permissions for the image, but when it's about such a sensitive subject matter, reaching out to the person beforehand is probably advisable.

And well done to Stormzy for being so forthright in his previous interview. Mental illness is hugely misunderstood and people of his profile talking about it will surely help others who are suffering.