Headie One used his BRIT Awards performance to speak out against the negative stereotypes associated with drill music.
The 26-year-old rapper took to the stage at the annual music awards ceremony on Tuesday (11.06.21) alongside AJ Tracey to perform their hit track, ‘It Aint Different’, and used his platform to reclaim the drill genre as a voice of unheard and disenfranchised youth.
The performance featured sound bites of media quotes such as "some say it's a symptom of societal failings" and "a form of aggressive rap music", as Headie tore down the racist prejudices against the genre.
Headie performed standing on a box designed by Virgil Abloh with smeared newspaper clippings highlighted in the colours of the Ghana flag, representing Headie's heritage.
The rapper also wore a custom Louis Vuitton tracksuit also designed by Virgil.
In a statement, Virgil said: "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."
Headie and AJ were not joined by co-collaborator Stormzy on stage, and so replaced the grime star’s verse by going back-to-back referencing various social issues, such as Marcus Rashford's philanthropic efforts, COVID-19 key workers, and explicit allusions to Headie spending three of his birthdays in jail.
Lyrics rapped by the pair included: "Team work keeps the dream working. It's only right we show love to the key workers”, / "What else can a drill youth rap about part from my worst days. You see me on stage but I was in jail for 3 of my birthdays", / "Two black brits stand here at the BRITs but still we ain't seen as British".
The statement-making performance has been anchored in collaboration with Bronski and Amber Rimell, the creative directors who spearheaded Stormzy's Glastonbury performance and have previously worked with Jess Glynne, Mabel and Dave.