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“That was black British history. That was Stormzy.” – A summary of Stormzy’s ground-breaking performance at Glastonbury. 

Stormzy, aka The Problem aka Big Mike aka Wicked Skengman made history on Friday as the first black British solo artist to headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2019. 

The 25 year old and Best Grime Act of 2014 and 2015 MOBO Awards, Stormzy, expressed the honour in performing on one of the biggest stages, with thanks to Glastonbury’s co-organiser Emily Eavis.

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Words of encouragement given to Stormzy regarding his set from his inspiration, renowned American rapper, Jay-Z were played on the video screens. “Culture moves the world,” Jay-Z said. “When you step on that stage, you’re going to see it because they are really ready for it.”

Stormzy in Stab Proof Vest by Banksy for Glastonbury. Source: Banksy Instagram.

Wearing a stab-proof Union Jack embellished vest, custom made by Banksy, crime statistics on the video screens, and a sample of a speech by Labour MP David Lammy on racial disproportionality, Stormzy effectively used his set to highlight inequality in the justice system.

Notably, during his moving performance of ‘Don’t Cry For Me’ with Raleigh Ritchie, Stormzy invited two black ballet dancers from Ballet Black on stage to highlight racism and privilege in the arts, specifically, ballet, where shoes have only just become available in different skin tones

Stormzy’s political alignment was far from shy during his explosive performance of ‘Vossi Bop’ where the lines, “Fuck the government and fuck Boris” were repeated as BMX riders from the BikeStormz family dominated the stage.

Left to right: Fredo, Dave and Stormzy performing Funky Friday.
Left to right: Fredo, Dave and Stormzy performing Funky Friday. Source: Tiffany Calver Instagram

Dave and Fredo joined Stormzy to perform their recent single ‘Funky Friday’. The reason being that, “Funky Friday is the first pure British rap song to go number one in the UK”, according to the headliner. Before leaving the stage, a grateful Dave thanked Stormzy: “You’ve made it possible, bro. You’ve allowed us to believe. I love you, bro. I love you.”

Ultimately, Friday saw a black British grime artist on one of the most-watched stages in the world use his performance and platform to highlight racism in the arts, racial profiling, knife crime, politics and most importantly, black excellence. Visually, the set was immersive and encapsulating, representing empowerment for black Londoners. 

Watch Stormzy’s revolutionary set here.

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