The Brits was on the 21st of February, and was very eventful as we witnessed, but let’s take it back to the beginning and discuss previous times the Brits (our version of the Grammys) acknowledged the urban scene.
Before we can really talk about this “recognition”, let me break down what an “urban scene” is using the example of grime (as this is the most identifiable facet of the urban scene at the moment): grime is the perfect way to describe what an urban scene is. The likes of Dizzee Rascal with ‘I Luv U’ and Wiley with ‘Wot U Call It’, were mandem from the endz who created a genre F.U.B.U (for us by us), from the ground up, influenced by their urban environments.
However the world did take notice, and the likes of Dizzee Rascal and Wiley were scooped up by XL records, with the cherry on top of the ice cream being Dizzee’s Mercury Prize win in 2003.
So was the relationship between the urban scene and the powers that be, all cool beans? To find out the full story, let’s take a time machine back to the start of the Brits’ recognition of the urban scene.
The Brits and its past winners from the urban scene
2002: So Solid Crew win Best British Video bringing it home for the mandem, many people believe that So Solid Crew were the forefathers of what we know as grime, as it has its roots in garage.
2003: Ms Dynamite continues the urban run in the Brits, winning both the Best British Female and the Best Urban Act.
2005: Mike Skinner brings it home for “The Streets”, winning Best British Solo Male.
2010: A couple of years go by before we see someone from the urban scene win a major award at the Brits, then in 2010 Dizzee Rascal wins British Male Solo artist- all be it with a pop album (Tongue N’ Cheek)- we’ll take it, as he’s done so much for the urban scene.
2011: Tine Tempah brings it home for the urban scene, winning British Breakthrough Act and British Single- but some would also question this, as the award was won by electronic/pop song ‘Pass Out’- but Tinie is also from the urban scene- so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Since then, no one from our scene has got recognised by the Brits, and things reached a boiling point in 2016, when all the U.K. nominees were white. Now let’s not try and turn this into a race thing, but with a country and music scene that is so diverse and with “urban artists” Skepta, Kano and Stormzy doing so much in 2015/2016, it’s very difficult to believe that no one from the urban scene deserved recognition for their achievements. Last year the Brits attempted to rectify their mistake from the previous year, and after the bits Skepta did with the release of the gold album Konnichiwa, Kano with the release of the critically acclaimed album Made in the Manor and Stormzy with the release of his debut album’s single ‘Big For Your Boots’- we assumed there was no way that the Brits could deny the mandem this time, but the nominations were only crumbs from the cake, as once again no one from our scene walked away with a prize.
However Stormzy came through and did absolute wonders at this year’s Brits, winning both Best British Male and Best Album for the outstanding project that is Gang Signs & Prayer. But the crowing jewel of the night was his performance, where he went at Theresa May’s neck for the handling of the Grenfell tragedy, calling her out for what he called criminal acts and he also told the Daily Mail to suck his dick, which will forever go down in history.
So has Stormzy’s triumph at this year’s Brits redeemed the relationship between the urban scene and the Brits? I’d say it’s definitely a step in the right direction. But let’s not get it twisted, with or without The Brits we are still going to be more than alright, as we have always been a DIY culture anyway. The world isn’t supposed to love us, we are grime on the shoes of the bourgeoisie, why do you think it’s called “grime”?
Words: Denzil Bell