London rapper Dave won album of the year at the Brits, moments after calling the prime minister a “racist”.
The star took home the night’s main award for his provocative, personal album Psychodrama, which also won last year’s Mercury Prize.
But it was his fiery performance of the single Black that stole the show.
In a newly-written verse, he called out the government response to the Grenfell Tower fire and said: “The truth is our prime minister is a real racist.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel told BBC Breakfast: “I don’t know how much [Dave] knows about the prime minister and whether he actually has met the prime minister or knows the prime minister.
“I work with the prime minister, I know Boris Johnson very well, no way is he a racist, so I think that is a completely wrong comment and it’s the wrong assertion to make against our prime minister.”
Downing Street said it wouldn’t comment on Dave’s remarks.
The rapper also attacked tabloid coverage of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and paid tribute to London Bridge terror attack victim Jack Merritt.
Two years after Stormzy demanded “where’s the money for Grenfell?” on the Brits stage, Dave updated the lyric, saying: “Grenfell victims still need accommodation.”
He added: “And we still need support for the Windrush generation/Reparations for the time our people spent on plantations.”
The lyrics were added as a final verse to Black, which talks about perceptions and experiences of black people in the UK.
The 21-year-old rapper is now only the second act to win best album at the Brits and the Mercury Prize for the same record.
The first was the Arctic Monkeys for their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.
This year’s ceremony attracted an average of 3.8 million viewers to ITV – the lowest ever for the Brit Awards.
However, several of the performances have been watched widely online, with Billie Eilish’s first live performance of the James Bond theme clocking 1.8 million views on YouTube alone by Wednesday lunchtime.
Eilish performed No Time To Die backed by a 22-piece orchestra, Smiths legend Johnny Marr and composer Hans Zimmer.
Lewis Capaldi was the main winner, taking home two prizes – best new artist and best single, for his breakout hit Someone You Loved.
“Contrary to popular belief, people think this song is about my ex girlfriend, who you can now see every night on Love Island,” said the star. “But it’s actually about my grandmother who sadly passed away a few years ago.
“I hope to God ITV don’t contact her to be on a reality dating show.”
Mabel won best female artist and was congratulated by her mother, Neneh Cherry, who took home two Brits exactly 30 years ago.
Eilish choked back tears as she accepted the award for best international female, having been overwhelmed by the audience’s response to her performance minutes earlier.
“I felt very hated recently,” said the 18-year-old, who had earlier told the BBC she had stopped reading comments on social media.
“And when so was on the stage and I saw all you guys smiling at me… It genuinely made me want to cry. And I want to cry right now, so thank you.”
Best male artist went to Stormzy, who performed a stunning medley of songs from his second album, Heavy Is The Head, accompanied by more than 100 performers, including a gospel choir, a saxophonist and Nigerian artist Burna Boy.
The night opened with a brief tribute to Love Island host Caroline Flack, formerly a backstage presenter at the Brits, following her death on Saturday.
“She was a kind and vibrant person with an infectious sense of fun,” ceremony host Jack Whitehall said.
“I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say our thoughts are with her friends and family.”
Earlier, Harry Styles, who briefly dated Flack while he was in One Direction, appeared to pay tribute by wearing a black ribbon on his jacket on the red carpet.
The star performed the delicate ballad Falling during the show, but made no further reference to Flack’s death.
Other performances on the night came from Lizzo, whose irrepressible energy lit up the O2 as she roamed through the crowd performing the hits Cuz I Love You, Truth Hurts, Good As Hell and Juice.
Mabel opened the show with an athletic version of Don’t Call Me Up, set in a call centre and featuring two dance breaks. And Sir Rod Stewart brought proceedings to an end two hours later, reuniting with The Faces to play Stay With Me.
There were several references to the lack of female nominees at the ceremony, with Paloma Faith and Foals saying they hoped for better representation at next year’s awards.
Whitehall also acknowledged the imbalance as he introduced the award for best female, saying: “Environmental issues have been a big theme of awards show this year. And in the spirit of sustainability the Brits has been recycling all the same excuses for why so few women were nominated.”
Dave wasn’t the only artist to make a political statement, with US artist Tyler, The Creator referencing the fact he had been banned from entering the UK in 2015 because of some of his lyrics.
“A special thank you to someone who made it impossible for me to come to this country five years ago,” said the rapper as he picked up best international male.
“I know she’s at home [peed] off – thank you Theresa May.”
Dave capped the night off by winning best album – a prize many had expected to go to Lewis Capaldi, whose debut album was the UK’s best-selling record last year.
But voters responded instead to the rapper’s candid, soul-baring reflections on his upbringing in London and what it means to be a young black Briton.
He dedicated his trophy to anyone hoping to follow in his footsteps, saying: “All my young kings and queens that are chasing their dreams, I am no different from you. You can do anything you put your mind to.”
Main image copyright: Getty Images
Written by: Mark Savage
First published 19.02.20: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-51554691