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‘It’s only the beginning’: Stormzy becomes first black British artist to headline Glastonbury | Ents & Arts News

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Making history as the first black British artist to headline Glastonbury, rapper Stormzy told crowds “Glasto, it’s only the f****** beginning”. 

In an impassioned moment on one of the most-watched stages in the world, the grime star kicked off his historic headline slot by wearing what appeared to be a stab vest emblazoned with a Union Jack.

The rapper opened his set with a video featuring Jay-Z before taking to the stage to perform his 2015 track Know Me From.

Stormzy wore a stab vest during his performance
Image:
Stormzy wore a stab vest during his performance

Before the performance, the 25-year-old tweeted how he was “overwhelmed with emotions” to be “the second-youngest solo act to ever headline Glastonbury, the youngest being a 24-year-old David Bowie in 1971.”

Just hours before his performance, Stormzy said it was the “most surreal feeling I’ve ever experienced”.

If there’s one man who understands how mixing politics and pop goes down well at Glastonbury, it’s singer and activist Billy Bragg.

Speaking backstage at the Leftfield tent, the festival regular said he still believes that “the power of music is in calling out politicians”.

“There are some communities who are still marginalised, who don’t get access to the mainstream media and black men are one of those.

“Which is why Stormzy is having to make great music in order to get onto our timelines.

The rapper said it was 'the most surreal feeling' to headline Glastonbury
Image:
The rapper said it was ‘the most surreal feeling’ to headline Glastonbury

“The only thing that group has is music to get in our faces and I think that’s why both grime, and drill particularly, still has so much edge to it.”

Glastonbury has always been a safe haven for political dissent but there’s one name this year that’s no longer on the line-up – punk-rave band Killdren.

They were booked to play on one of the festival’s smaller stages when their song ‘Kill Tory Scum’ was picked up on by a number of newspapers and they were quickly dropped from the bill.

The Jo Cox Foundation described its language as “completely abhorrent”.

Killdren accused the bookers of Glastonbury’s Shangri-La stage of “buckling under pressure from the right-wing media”.

Dan Stubbs, deputy editor of the NME, isn’t convinced it was the right decision.

Stormzy has become the first black British artist to headline Glastonbury
Image:
Stormzy has become the first black British artist to headline Glastonbury

“I think its a microcosm of a much bigger issue at the moment and it’s very difficult for everyone.

“I was here when Glastonbury did the tribute to Jo Cox, but it is censorship and it’s difficult because the song is clearly not wanting anyone to do it.

“It’s satire, it’s a silly song, they don’t take themselves too seriously.

“The decision kind of goes against the long-running lefty ethos of Glastonbury and it’s a bit worrying when they take bands off line-ups because something might not be quite phrased right.”

But Stormzy’s standout performance showed Glastonbury doesn’t have an issue with artists who have plenty to say about politics.

How seriously an artist is taken all comes down to how they say it.

And in the grime star’s case, on Friday night the whole of the festival was captivated.

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