A British artist has taken Prime Minister Theresa May to task, rapping about the government’s failure to provide support to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
After Stormzy’s 40-second verse on stage at the 2018 Brit music awards on Wednesday evening won him praise, Number 10 defended its record over the deadly London blaze in June, 2017, in which at least 71 people died.
In his lyric, Stormzy said: “Yo, Theresa May where’s the money for Grenfell? What, you thought we just forgot about Grenfell? You criminals, and you got the cheek to call us savages? You should do some jail time, you should pay some damages. You should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.”
In response, a spokesman for the prime minister said on Thursday: “I think the PM has been very clear that Grenfell was an unimaginable tragedy that should never have happened and should never be allowed to happen again.”
The spokesman admitted May had not watched the performance by Stormzy, who won the award for Best Male Solo Artist at the ceremony.
The government, he said, had allotted $82m for victims of the disaster.
However, the Conservative-led administration has been accused of failing the victims, many of whom remain without permanent housing.
An online petition, calling on PM May to build public trust in the Grenfell Tower inquiry, has gathered almost 30,000 signatures.
“Bereaved families and survivors call on [the prime minister] to exercise her powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 to appoint additional panel members, with decision-making power, to sit alongside the chair in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry: to ensure those affected have confidence in and are willing to fully participate,” the petition reads.
The clip of Stormzy’s rap has been viewed more than 1.5 million times on social media, with many praising the artist as a “national treasure”.
Later in the rap, 24-year-old Stormzy targeted Britain’s right-wing Daily Mail news for negative rhetoric against minorities and praised recent successes of black figures in popular culture, such as the model Jourdan Dunn and actor Daniel Kaluuya.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, was among those who had praised the artist’s performace, writing on Twitter: “Congratulations @Stormzy1 for winning your first #BRIT award, and what a powerful performance. #Grenfell.”
Editor Elizabeth Pears tweeted: “Stormzy brought religion, politics, and road to the #BRITs Backed it for Grenfell, gave a shout out to Daniel Kaluuya & Jourdan Dunn, sang in the rain, and didn’t get muted once. He’s a legit national treasure.”
Liam Young, an author, took to the social media site to describe Stormzy as “an activist”.
Jourdann Dunn, the model Stormzy praised in his lyric, wrote on Twitter: “Stormzy for Prime Minister.”
Akala, a rapper and activist, showed solidarity with Stormzy, writing: “A ‘pop star’ from the hood got on national TV at the peak of his career and called the PM a criminal. Bro we got you, differently.”
On June 14, 2017, a fire ripped through Grenfell Tower, an apartment block in west London, claiming the lives of scores of residents.
Victims ranged in ages from a stillborn baby to an 84-year-old woman.
Most residents were from lower-income backgrounds and their flats were subsidised by the council in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – a wealthy, but deeply divided area.