11/05/2021 22:53 BST

Headie One Calls Out Government Over Free School Meals Saga During Brit Awards Performance

He also took on negative perceptions of drill music as he took to the stage at The O2.

Rapper Headie One took down the government over the free school meals saga during his Brit Awards performance on Tuesday. 

The musician took to the stage at London’s O2 Arena alongside AJ Tracey and Young T & Bugsey for a special rendition of songs Ain’t It Different and Don’t Rush.

In a new verse, Headie One, whose real name is Irving Adjei, criticised ministers and praised footballer Marcus Rashford for his campaign to extend the food voucher system last year. 

JMEnternational via Getty Images
Headie One performs on stage during The Brit Awards 2021 

“The government is saying eat out to help out but won’t help out Rashford when he’s feeding the youths,” he rapped.

During the performance, he also addressed the negative perception sometimes associated with drill music. 

The genre has been blamed by some for fuelling violent crime and in 2018 Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick called on social media platforms to take down drill videos that were claimed to incite violence.

Headie One appeared inside a box made by fashion designer Virgil Abloh, covered in newspaper clippings, as media quotes describing drill as “a form of aggressive rap music” and “a symptom of societal failings” played out.

He also rapped: “What else can a drill youth rap about apart from my worst days. You see me on stage but I was in jail for three of my birthdays.”

Elsewhere, he also paid tribute to the key workers in the audience and challenged notions of racism in society, rapping: “Two black Brits stand here at the Brits but still we ain’t seen as British.”

Headie One had been nominated for three awards at Tuesday’s ceremony, including Best British Solo Male, which was won by J Hus.

He also had two nods in the Best British Single category – for Ain’t It Different with AJ Tracey and Stormzy, as well as for Young T & Bugsey collaboration Don’t Rush – but lost out to Harry Styles’ Watermelon Sugar. 

Headie One was not the only artist to make a statement during the Brit Awards. 

Dua Lipa, who was the night’s big winner, used one of her acceptance speeches to call on Boris Johnson to give NHS workers a pay rise

Little Mix also referenced music industry sexism as they made history after becoming the first all-female band to pick up the award for Best British Group. 

Photo gallery Brit Awards 2021 Red Carpet See Gallery