Stormzy Puts The Brits On The Road To Redemption

Words: Aaron Bishop

All eyes were on the 38th annual Brit Awards last night and it was definitely a night to remember. After a turbulent few years regarding nominations (and wins) for black British artists, we looked in anticipation to see if the likes of Dave, Loyle Carner and J Hus would win big on the night. Unsurprisingly, they didn't (although "Did You See" will always be our song of 2017), however Stormzy broke down doors for the scene once again, walking away with both Best British Male and Best Album for the masterpiece that is Gang Signs & Prayer, beating the likes of Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and Rag'n'Bone Man before giving us a performance that will go down in British music history.

Starting with "Blinded By Your Grace Pt. 2" against a backdrop of ballied-up backing singers—reminiscent of the album's cover art—Stormzy sang in the pouring rain, before backing off his hoodie and performing a freestyle and ending with #GSAP lead single, "Big For Your Boots". However, it was the freestyle that made this a moment to remember. As proud as we all were of Stormzy's achievements that evening, his freestyle showcased everything we love about him and why he deserves everything he's getting. This was his moment and his alone, yet he selflessly used it to big up black British Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya and model Jourdan Dunn, as well as call out the government—specifically Prime Minister Theresa May around the Grenfell tragedy—calling them all "criminals." And let's not forget about him telling the Daily Mail to (rightfully) suck his dick.

In his performance, Stormzy managed to bring religion, politics and the roads to the biggest music event in Britian's calendar year without getting muted once (sorry, Kendrick), singlehandedly bringing relevance to the awards once again whilst stealing the show from some globally-recognised names and proving why he's the epitome of what should be expected from a Best British Male winner. But let's be clear: this isn't down to The Brits—they were little more than bystanders. If they knew Stormzy planned to say what he said, it's likely he would have been muted. This is down to a man who is one of the people, living his dreams and not afraid to express his truth. If it wasn't for the legendary Kanye moment, or the #BritsSoWhite hashtag, it could be questioned if we ever would have got to witness this iconic moment in the first place.

Artists like Dave and J Hus have plenty of time to win those life-changing awards and have the talent to be nominated again next year, but we can't forget overlooked artists like Wiley, Skepta, Kano, and even Giggs to some extent, who arguably deserved to have been Brit winners long before their nominations last year. With Stormzy winning two of the biggest awards of the night and making the statement that he did, he embodied what it means to be a grime artist—while also putting the Brit Awards on a path of redemption. We'll have to wait until next year to see if they indeed stick to it, or change course.

Posted on February 22, 2018