Dave’s BRIT Awards Performance Is Something Special

Dave’s BRIT Awards Performance Is Something Special

The awards-show performance is a funny thing. If you’re playing one of these things, you want to prove that you’re a skilled and respectable musician, but you also want to do something sensational that TV audiences will remember. Most of the people who play these things end up doing lame treacly Broadway shit. But last night, the London rapper Dave did something new and inspiring with the format.

Last night was the BRIT Awards, the UK answer to the Grammys. Billie Eilish performed her Bond theme “No Time To Die” for the first time, accompanied by Johnny Marr and Hans Zimmer. But the big news from the evening was Dave, the 20-year-old rapper whose sincere and sensitive album Psychodrama was a huge UK hit last year. At the BRITs, Psychodrama, which had already won the Mercury Music Prize, also scored the Best Album prize, beating out contenders from Stormzy, Harry Styles, Michael Kiwanuka, and Lewis Capaldi. And Dave also performed “Black,” a heavy-hearted Psychodrama song about the way race works in the world.

Dave opened up his performance entirely solo, rapping while playing piano. His piano was a big LCD screen where images came up along with the song. As the camera revolved around him, a string section eventually came in, and another pianist joined Dave. As the song ended, he jumped up from his stool to rap an entirely new verse that named some names and took stands in British politics.

In that new verse, Dave called out UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “It is racist whether or not it feels racist/ The truth is our Prime Minister’s a real racist.” He attacked the press over their coverage of Meghan Markle: “Now if you don’t wanna get it, then you’re never gonna get it/ How the news treats Kate versus how they treated Meghan.” And he called out for reparations and for justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and the Windrush scandal. It’s a powerful performance, and you can watch it below.

Dave’s Psychodrama is out now on Neighbourhood.

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