Rapper Headie One took aim at the Government over free school meals and addressed the negative public perception of drill music during an impassioned performance at the Brit Awards.
The Tottenham-born musician, real name Irving Adjei, was nominated twice at the event and took to the stage at London’s O2 Arena alongside fellow nominee AJ Tracey for a performance of his song Ain’t It Different.
The 26-year-old appeared inside a box made by fashion designer Virgil Abloh, covered in newspaper clippings, as media quotes describing drill as “a form of aggressive rap music” and “a symptom of societal failings” played out.
The genre has been blamed by some for fuelling violent crime and in 2018 Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick called on social media platforms to take down drill videos that were claimed to incite violence.
In a new verse, Adjei chastised the Government and praised footballer Marcus Rashford for his campaign to extend the food voucher system.
“The Government is saying eat out to help out but won’t help out Rashford when he’s feeding the youths,” he rapped.
Adjei, who in October last year scored a number one with his debut album Edna, also addressed spending three birthdays in prison after being sentenced for drug offences in 2014.
“What else can a drill youth rap about apart from my worst days,” he said.
“You see me on stage but I was in jail for three of my birthdays.”
Elsewhere Adjei paid tribute to the key workers in the audience and challenged notions of racism in society, rapping: “Two black Brits stand here at the Brits but still we ain’t seen as British.”
Paying tribute to his Ghanaian roots, he performed wearing a custom Louis Vuitton tracksuit also designed by Abloh.
The designer said of the show: “Supporting next generation’s talent is a part of my ethos. Watching Headie One build his career in music while being a voice of evolution makes his art practice important in contemporary art.”
Behind the performance were Bronski and Amber Rimell, the creative directors who spearheaded Stormzy’s Glastonbury headline performance and have also worked with Jess Glynne, Mabel and Dave.
Adjei’s debut album Edna, dedicated to and named after his late mother, tackled topics including his time in prison and was a critical success.