Unleashing a night of fun and celebration onto the world, the 2022 BRIT Awards were a stunning sight. As we try to get back to normal after two years of being distanced from one another, the award show gathered some of the best talent the UK has ever produced in one room – and it was electric.
The glitz of Adele’s seated ballad, the suprise shredding power of Ed Sheeran and the red leathery circus of Anne-Marie and KSI’s performance were amazing showcases of just what we have here at home. And this year – maybe more than ever – the diversity of UK’s rap scene was also lauded spectacularly.
This year’s BRITs saw our wondrous spitters gaining nominations for some of the more coveted awards, such as Russ Millions and Tion Wayne – the dynamic drill duo – being nominated for Song Of The Year for their viral modern club classic ‘Body’. West London’s pride and glory Central Cee also earned three nominations, stemming from the mesmerising PinkPantheress-sampled track ‘Obsessed With You’ that’s racked up 128 million views on YouTube.
But this piece wouldn’t be complete without a deep dive into the most-talked about two of the night: Little Simz and Dave, the poised and subdued Londoners who showed off with refreshing performances for their fans. Without explicitly making a statement, they created artful shows underpinned by their understated natures, showing that rap (once seen as aggressive or taboo) can be just as sophisticated as any other genre. You’ve just gotta look in the right places.
As Little Simz waved her Yoruba flag whilst clothed in black for an emotional rendition of ‘Introvert’, before peeling back into a suave jazzy number for the lush ‘Woman’, her performance was an inspiring display of utter confidence. The world currently screams for more positive Black woman archetypes, and Little Simz is certainly forging a new one. Three masterful albums in and with such high acclaim in the scene, it was heartwarming moment for Simbiatu Ajikawo to win Best New Artist (although we all know Little Simz is a bigger fish than that).
Simz is always thoughtful in her speeches. At the NME Awards in 2020, the Islington rapper was awarded Best British Album by her friend and peer Avelino, and was short and sweet with her gratitude, her ultimate hype man – her mum – at her side. Bringing her mum onstage with her again at the BRITS, she launched into a motivational speech to those like her: “I am living proof that if you work hard at something, no matter where you come from… you can do something extraordinary”. This was a clarion call for those who look to Simz for inspiration, lighting a fire to fight harder to be in spaces that many believed they’d never get to.
Then, closing the show – which was already huge for UK rap – Streatham legend Dave showed that fire and hunger… literally. Bringing together a supersized cast of UK heavyweights, new and old, Dave created a magical ending. He enlisted grime legends Ghetts and Giggs, both of whom have served nearly 20 years in the game, and newer guys like Fredo and Manchester’s Meekz, whose pens hold the same sentimental feel as Dave’s.
‘In The Fire’ is an emotional deep cut on the Album Of The Year-nominated ‘We’re Not All Alone Together’, and their performance followed suit. Swagged down in fashionable looks, each delivered an impassioned rap – especially Ghetts, whose verse was riddled with such iconic lines. It’s emotional to see him earn the graces he deserved for the last 19 years as one of the best lyricists ever. While rapping along to the Plaistow star, Dave caught the last of a lyric to emphasise: “it’s deeper”. It was a minuscule moment, but summed up the love for their craft and the recognition of their journeys to the BRITS 2022 stage because it is, in fact, deeper than just rap.
The real star here, of course, has to be Dave. Playing guitars (that shoot fire) and a piano, Dave proved himself a master of all trades. Giving hope to other boys out there who have been through the lowest of lows, he further proves just why UK’s rapping talent is some of the most well-crafted in the entire world. We don’t miss a beat.
This year’s BRITs show should be a reminder to everyone watching to never underestimate the pesky kids who huddle up to show off their newest rhymes. Those out all the time at open mics trying to get themselves out there. Those locked up in their studios trying to make the next hit.
With utter dedication to the meticulous grind, Dave and Little Simz both prove that you can go anywhere your drive will take you and, while you staying true to yourself, your efforts will be recognised no matter what.