The awards were co-presented by Julie Adenuga who wore an emerald green durag and elegant dress to match designed together with Nicole Ranger. Her co-presenter Mo Gilligan was dressed in a Scabal suit styled by SJR Styles and up to his usual antics. The hosts brought banter from the stage right to the viewers at home all evening.
George the Poet opened the ceremony with a powerful spoken word performance of “It Was Written”, tracing the roots of iconic Black British sounds. He began with London Posse, garage legends So Solid Crew and Ms. Dynamite. Moving across the country, he shouted out Birmingham’s MIST as well as Young T and Bugsey from Nottingham who went viral with the “Don’t Rush” challenge over lockdown.
He paid homage to Grenfell Tower victims and those we’ve lost in the scene, including Cadet and Black the Ripper. Finishing up, he said, “We give our own flowers at the Rated Awards”, reminding us that Black Brits had to carve their own lane for hip-hop and rap.
Drill’s newcomer Dutchavelli won the award for ‘Breakthrough of the Year’, thanking his management team and the mandem in his usual grizzly voice. Aitch and AJ Tracey collected the ‘Video of the Year’ award for their newest collaboration “Rain”, produced by American hit-maker Tay Keith.
Aitch was “grateful” for his very first Rated Award and joked it was AJ’s 74th. Aitch told fans the video for “Rain”, which boasts unnaturally pink skies with Californian palm trees as the backdrop, was shot in L.A. and directed by Arrad.
Kano made everyone’s eyes water in his performance of “Teardrops”. The emotive video envisions a harrowing experience of being stopped and searched.
It shows police officers speaking to Kano with the utmost contempt, while he passionately spits bars about systemic racism in Britain. His window is smashed, and he is wrestled out of the car with brute force. He raps, “When it rains it pours, Hoodies all summer, ‘Cause teardrops from the sky, Only seem to fall on you and I”.
“Teardrops” honours more than 100 Black people who died during or following police contact since 1990. Sofia Akel, the Race Equality Specialist who worked on the project said it “urges us to be less American-centric in our analysis and outrage of the over-policing, brutality and ultimately murder of Black people”.
All of the proceeds from the video are going towards INQUEST, an organisation that supports families with legal procedures.
The rap duo D-Block Europe took home the ‘Mixtape of the Year’ award for PTSD, an incredible 28-track tape that went gold and features the likes of Dave and Lil Baby.
Jae5, the producer behind many of J Hus’ biggest hits and the Dave and Burna Boy collaboration on “Location”, landed ‘Producer of the Year’ his first ever award for production. He gracefully thanked the fans, his team and everyone who played a part in his journey so far.
Br3nya gave an unapologetic performance of “Plenty (Too Trendy)”, wearing corsets adorned in pink feathers. She rapped, “Only bad Bs at my function” and added a new twist with a break that sampled Beyoncé and Sean Paul’s iconic track “Baby Boy”.
Then Ivorian Doll took the reins and showed us how she quickly became the Queen of Drill. Fittingly, she performed “Body Bag” in a cemetery and paid homage to the King of Pop Michael Jackson, breaking into “Thriller”. She even managed to squeeze in a re-enactment of Lil Kim’s viral dance from the BET Awards last year.
All-round entertainer Chunkz, who was one of last weekend’s stars of Soccer Aid, won the ‘Personality of the Year’ award. He recalled attending the Rated Awards in 2018, “I was there two years ago, and Michael Dapaah won the award, gave man a shout out and two years later I’m holding the awards, so I’m gassed, I can’t lie”.
In a category full of DJ heavyweights, including Dotty, Tiffany Calver and former winner Charlie Sloth, Kenny Allstar became ‘Radio DJ of the Year’. Kenny delivered a passionate speech, thanking the voters and artists who featured on his ‘Voice of the Streets’ freestyles and ‘Mad About Bars’ show on Mixtape Madness.
He said, “We’ve been working heavy man, a decade strong. A lot of people didn’t think they would see a new DJ this year but that just shows it’s all timing”. Speaking to the next generation, he said, “Anyone that’s come from where I’ve come from or looks like me or patterns radio like me, this is the beginning”.
Abra Cadabra gave an exclusive performance of “On Deck”, he opened the track telling fans “Back like I never left” and sprayed serious bars over the punchy drill beat.
Tion Wayne’s single “I Dunno” featuring Dutchavelli and Stormzy took ‘Track of the Year’. Tion promised to keep pushing and to deliver even more next year. Stormzy jokingly compared his performance on the track to Kingsley Coman’s goal in the Champions League final last month. He described Tion Wayne’s work as “genius business”.
The ‘Male Artist of the Year’ went to D-Block Europe, who bagged their second award of the night. The dynamic duo told fans that an album and a tour would be coming soon before Julie Adenuga made the perfect dad joke about not being able to see them next year because of Brexit.
Stefflon Don took the title of ‘Female Artist of the Year’ despite not releasing anything this year until “Move”, a fiery new video that dropped the same day as the ceremony.
Dutchavelli made a third appearance, performing “Burning” with M Huncho against a crazy animated backdrop. J Hus won the award for ‘Album of the Year’ with Big Conspiracy.
At the beginning of the year, his second studio album immediately topped the charts. J Hus said that so much hard work was put into the album, it was “Blood, sweat and tears”, thanking the fans and his team.
Before closing the ceremony and presenting the final award, GRM Daily founder Posty spoke about their vision “to create a global show that celebrated the wealth of raw talent in the rap and grime scene. A platform for artists to be seen, to shine and to receive the recognition that they deserve for their hard work and hustle”.
Posty presented the ‘Legacy Award’ to one of the founding fathers of the scene Dizzee Rascal, who “inspired a generation to fix up, look sharp”.
Dizzee Rascal gave a stellar performance of his songs that paved the way for British rap music cherished by millions today. He literally began with “Sittin’ Here”, sat in the corner of a white floored room with digitised yellow walls, in a black Nike tracksuit and trainers.
This opening scene replicated the front cover of Dizzee’s debut studio album Boy in Da Corner. The British rapper schooled the audience with classics like “I Luv U”, “Stop Dat” and “Jus’ a Rascal”.
The graphics throughout the virtual show were electric, particularly for the latest release “L.L.L.L” featuring Chip, which projected the album cover and then transformed into a lyrics video. Dizzee’s iconic one-man performance perfectly showed how he managed to carve out his own path, rising to the goat level and global success.
Although it would have been brilliant to see more female artists represented among the winners of the awards, other than Darkoo and the DJ category, the results are unsurprising given the lack of female nominees.
As a scene, more needs to be done to recognise and support the women coming through because the quality is most certainly there.
Overall, the virtual ceremony of the 2020 GRM Daily Rated Awards did not disappoint. As ever, the talented British artists gave stunning performances, from Kano’s tear-jerking video to drill’s new queen Ivorian Doll.