This year’s livestreamed Rated Awards ceremony (sponsored by German Doner Kebab, no less) offered a great moment of entertainment in troubling times. As well as musical spectacles, the awards – created by GRM Daily, one of UK rap’s most influential YouTube channels – also honoured a few trailblazers. With some memorable performances and humble speeches, this year’s event was a display of just how meaningful UK rap culture is. Here are the big points we took away from it.
George the Poet earned his name
The opening performance was magical. After being introduced by the dynamic duo of presenter Julie Adenuga (who co-hosted the NME Awards back in February before the world went to shit) and comedian Mo Gilligan, we were zoomed to London’s streets in grayscale as George spoke eloquently about just how great grime and UK rap has been this millennium. From paying homage to UKG greats such as Heartless Crew and So Solid Crew to quoting Wretch 32 as the artist he listened to on his first day of college, George reminded the audience just how great our rap culture is.
Julie Adenuga and Mo Gilligan should have a show together
Julie and Mo’s banter kept you watching. Julie is known to be a sharp-shooter, especially when it came to her commentary, so her going back and forth with someone equally quick-witted and funny made the intervals just as watchable as the rest of the show. This was especially true when they reenacted an iconic scene from last year’s Top Boy; the endless banter between the two was a real highlight.
It was great line-up of winners
Throughout the night, rightful winners got their hands on the shiny black-and-gold statues. There was a family victory for London-based Stefflon Don and her brother, Dutchavelli, who both got their hands on the prestigious awards. Steff picked up Female Of The Year and Dutch grasped the best Newcomer and Track of The Year awards – the latter with chart-raiders Stormzy and Tion Wayne for ‘I Dunno’. Plus, J-Hus walked away with the highly anticipated Album of the Year for this year’s ‘Big Conspiracy’. Lewisham’s finest D-Block Europe walked away with two (Male of the Year and Mixtape of the Year), drawing with Dutchavelli for the most awarded stars on the night. A worthy selection. Except…
Where were the women?
Women have been dominating the UK rap industry in the past year or so. Why, then, were the categories so male-dominated? For example, newcomer Darkoo has swiftly gone from emerging into the music scene to blowing up the Top 40 chart with ‘Gangsta’ – only her seventh ever track. However, she popped in the Newcomer of the Year and Female of the Year categories and received nothing.
Also, the DJ of the Year award – which, other than Female of the Year, was the category that featured the most women – went to Kenny Allstar. It’s great that the man widely dubbed ‘the voice of the streets’ won the award, but considering filmmaker Henrie Kwushue created a whole documentary series highlighting gentrification and the hidden gems of London via her own production company, she’d have greatly deserved the award.
Wait – how is Stefflon Don the Female of the Year?
She doesn’t seem to know the answer herself. Having not dropped any music this year, it was surprising that the London rapper took the award, despite her enormous talent. Sure, since this year’s Rated Awards winners were voted by the fans, and you can understand that Steff’s huge global fan base could outvote anyone. But kinda makes you think: do fan-voted categories work in an era of online fandom?
Grime’s golden boy has a golden message
Known to many as Sully from Top Boy, east Londoner and grime legend Kano showed off his acting skills again with a powerful performance of the politically charged ‘Teardrops’, which appeared on his latest album ‘Hoodies All Summer’. Kano reenacted a typical stop-and-search, acting lawfully while being questioned by the cops. However, his silence riled up the officers, which led to them illegally brutalising our beloved golden boy.
A heart-wrenching tale that is relatable to ethnic minorities in the UK, this portrayal of police brutality was a raw cut of how the crooked cops can be in the UK. And Kano has made sure to give back to victims: the golden boy ensured that all of the profits from the YouTube views of his Rated Awards performance go to the charity INQUEST, which seeks justice for state-related deaths.
Dizzee finally got his due
Seeing Dizzee Rascal getting his flowers is a beautiful thing. Before Posty – the creator of GRM Daily – presented him with his Legacy award, Dizzee performed a melody of his greatest hits. Emerging from his infamous corner of a yellow room, he started his set with 2003’s ‘Sittin’ Here’ before performing a few more classics such ‘I Luv U’ and commercial banger ‘Holiday’. Dizzee even performed ‘L.L.L.L’, the latest single from his upcoming album ‘E3 AF’. He’s a pioneer for many grime and UK rap stars who came after him, and this moment was a long time coming.