On the 21st February 2018, the U.K.’s biggest music awards ceremony: The 2018 BRIT Awards took place. While Kendrick Lamar continues to be snubbed by the Grammys, their British equivalent seems to have finally turned the corner. Stormzy triumphed over the most commercially successful Ed Sheeran for two of the night’s biggest awards – best British male and album of the year
But it was his performance on the night that took headlines around the world. In a specially designed freestyle, the rapper bravely criticized U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May over the Grenfell Tower catastrophe in London, where 71 people died and many survivors still remain without permanent homes.
Stormzy’s success is a large leap from Brit 2016, where with grime and U.K. rap thriving like never before — not a single black artist was nominated for a major category. For many people, Stormzy’s Brits triumph marked a watershed moment for marginalized voices. The Grime artist’s win provided a poster for a genre that has often been shunned by mainstream critics.
Ironically, it took an American superstar in 2015 to recognize British talent. It was Kanye West’s 2015 Brits performance of “All Day” where he brought the leading lights of the Grime scene onstage, including Stormzy and Skepta that made people take notice.
“Kanye knows the Brits ain’t letting dons in there like that, so he kicked off the door for us.”
Wiley — known as the ‘Godfather of Grime’
But Stormzy’s success not only plays an important role for the Grime scene but demonstrates a potential blueprint of success for the underprivileged youth — and acts as a signal of hope.
“The kids I’ve met from tough backgrounds, who move in and out of school, who carry knives or get involved in selling drugs, their talent and dreams are wasted and we need to give them choices in life. The best way to show them that they can achieve is for them to see people like Stormzy who come from the same part of town, who have the same lived experience, and made it.”
Sarah Jones — Labour MP for Croydon Central, Stormzy’s childhood constituency
Stormzy’s success positions him alongside “Black Panther”, “Black Mirror” and “Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya; as well as “Star Wars” John Boyega — a small and regularly demonised demographic absolutely dominating British culture, against all conceivable odds — and being totally authentic while doing it.
*Photos courtesy of Sky News, PopSugar, Le Monde and of-ireland
*Videos courtesy of YouTube
*Text courtesy of The Guardian and billboard