Despite winning awards for the Best British Male Solo Artist and Best British Album, South London MC Stormzy’s astonishing freestyle will be the memory of the night.
Criticising the Government’s response to Grenfell, the Grime artist rapped:
“Yo, Theresa May, where’s that money for Grenfell? You just forgot about Grenfell.
“You’re criminals, and you’ve got the cheek to call us savages, you should do some jail-time, you should pay some damages, we should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.”
He also went on to unflatteringly call out the Daily Mail, a paper he has clashed with in the past over its coverage of Grime and its alleged promotion of drug use.
This was, rather objectively, a brave decision by the South Londoner. The BRITs pull in up to 6 million viewers every year, and the freestyle, naturally, went viral afterwards. I’ve written previously about the intersection of politics and music; especially hip-hop and grime, which, ever since the 1980s with NWA, has given a voice to the working class. On one hand, It’s all well and good placing political messages within recorded albums; it’s another to risk your media reputation in front of millions. Stormzy, an artist who has grown exponentially over the last few years, used his platform to stand up for the forgotten - and for this, he must receive praise.
He’s not stranger to political involvement; backing Jeremy Corbyn back in 2016 and at last year’s Glastonbury performance, this latest commentary is a scathing criticism of Theresa May’s Government. It seems to have achieved what was intended - putting pressure on Downing Street, who have tepidly responded:
“The PM has been clear that what happened at Grenfell was an unimaginable tragedy, which should never be allowed to happen again. She is determined the public inquiry will discover not just what went wrong but why the voices of the people of Grenfell had been ignored for so many years.”
It also went some way to reminding the public of the Grenfell victims, who have seemingly been forsaken by the authorities just eight months after the tragedy. The power of hip-hop and grime, in giving a voice to the voiceless, should not be underestimated - for some, it’s their only hope.