British rapper Dave won the top prize at the Brit Awards on Tuesday, after getting political in his performance at the country’s biggest music awards show.
The event has faced criticism this year due to the lack of female nominees in mixed gender categories, with just four women named in 25 spots, and all ultimately losing to men.
Twenty-one year-old Dave took home best album for his debut release Psychodrama, which addresses black identity and institutional racism, and topped Britain’s music charts last year.
He also earned a standing ovation for his performance of the album’s standout track Black, to which he added a new verse accusing Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, of being a “real racist”, and calling out the press treatment of Prince Harry’s wife Meghan Markle.
Dave’s rival in the nominations, indie newcomer Lewis Capaldi, beat him in the categories for best new artist and best song for Someone You Loved. Capaldi is riding high after his debut album, Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent, became Britain’s best-selling album of 2019.
But both Capaldi and Dave lost out on the best British male award to leading grime artist Stormzy, who also performed on the night. His explosive set featured rain, firecrackers and more than 50 people on stage.
Collecting his award, Stormzy paid tribute to the women he works with.
“To be the best male, I have got the most incredible females in my team,” he said.
Other winners included teenage sensation Billie Eilish, who won best international female solo artist and performed her theme song for the new James Bond film during the ceremony.
The 18-year-old had been up against Lizzo, Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello and Lana del Rey.
“I felt very hated recently,” she told the audience, after revealing she no longer reads social media comments. “When I was on stage and I saw you guys all smiling at me, it genuinely made me want to cry and I want to cry now.”
No Time To Die has already been viewed nearly 26 million times on YouTube, rounding off a remarkable few weeks for the singer, who is the youngest artist to record a Bond track.
The Brit Awards have recognised the best in British music since they were first held in 1977, but have often been marred by scandal.
The disproportionate number of male nominees this year comes despite a major overhaul of the Brits’ voting academy in 2017 to make it more gender balanced and diverse, with hundreds of new members joining.
But while women were under-represented in the awards, black artists dominated the best album and best male categories.
British artists account for an eighth of album sales worldwide, according to figures from BPI, which represents the British music industry.