The ‘Gang Signs and Prayer’ rapper headlined the Pyramid Stage on Friday night (June 28) and frequently used his set to highlight issues of racial and social injustice.
While an early section saw him showcasing the talents of two black ballet dancers, his performance of ‘First Things First’ began by using a sample of a speech by the Tottenham MP David Lammy – which highlighted the high reoffending rates of black men in the UK.
It stated: “The system isn’t working. If recidivism rates are 46% for black men then something isn’t working.”
Speaking to NME, Lammy hailed the star for using the huge platform to draw attention to the issue.
“I thought it was great. Glastonbury is one of the biggest cultural platforms in the world, watched by a global audience,” he said.
✊??? @stormzy using his headline spot at #glastonburyfestival2019 to speak out about the injustice of young black kids being criminalised in a biased and disproportionate justice system. Humbled and inspired that he sampled my speech. Salute #Merky pic.twitter.com/iSG3PMssrd
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) June 28, 2019
“At the heart of what Stormzy sings about is social injustice, particularly for black and ethnic minority young men growing up in cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester.”
He continued: “I was really pleased that he captured some of what I’ve said about the bias in the criminal system.”
As for his moment of stardom, Lammy wasn’t aware that he would be featured in the set and says he felt “self conscious” after first hearing his voice being projected across Worthy Farm.
- READ MORE: Alright, doubters – Stormzy’s Glastonbury headline set was a platform to elevate others, a statement of intent and bloody brilliant
“Like a lot of people, I’m not sure I like my voice, so I was slightly self conscious!”, he admitted.
“But I quickly thought about the words that I was saying and the power of those words, and that’s what he clearly wanted to bring to his set.
“I have the platform of the House of Commons, but let’s be clear – there’s no way I can reach or have the kind of reach of an award winning artist,” he added.
The set was also defined by Stormzy’s striking entrance – which saw him arriving on stage wearing a stab vest adorned with the Union Jack.
Describing it as a response to “national rhetoric”, Lammy said: “Britain’s a very divided country and a lot of young people feel sold down the road by the political class and the rising populist and national rhetoric coming from our politicians.
“Stormzy was pretty uncompromising about Boris Johnson too and wearing a British flag on a stab vest is very clever.”
And while the Pyramid Stage marks the biggest performance of Stormzy’s career so far, the politician reckons that says that the best is yet to come.
“He’s only 25 and at top of his game. We should never estimate that there are millions of youth in our country who feel so marginalised, so maligned and so ignored. It’s hugely empowering for them when they see another young man who looks like them, sounds like them and that’s what he personifies.”
After a historic headline set from Stormzy last night along with Interpol topping the John Peel tent and Tame Impala stunning the Other Stage, Glastonbury 2019 continues as The Cure and The Killers head up a huge line-up that also includes the likes of Liam Gallagher, Janet Jackson, Miley Cyrus and Vampire Weekend, to name but a few. See the full stage-by-stage breakdown here.