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'Let This Be a Constant Dark Stain on British Society'—Stormzy Remembers the Victims of Grenfell Tower

The artist delivered a heartfelt speech on the third anniversary of the tragedy, and has also pledged £10 million to Black causes over the next ten years.

Sunday, June 14 marked the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 mostly working class people of color in West London in 2017.

In remembrance of those lost, Grenfell United held a special memorial that featured words and tributes from various individuals and public figures including Adele, and star British-Ghanaian rapper Stormzy, who has remained outspoken about the government's lack of action since the tragedy occurred.


He delivered a heartfelt speech during the event, sharing a message of remembrance and support for victims. "To all the people of Grenfell, we're still mourning with you, so to anyone watching this let's use this time, let's use today to stand in solidarity with them and say that we ain't forgotten you. We love you, we're here for you," said the rapper.

"When the government and powers that be have turned their back on you, we're here," he added. "We're here, we've got you, we're not letting this go," he added. "It's become my duty – and everyone else's duty – to make sure we never forget this."

Earlier this month, the rapper pledged £10 million ($12.5m) to Black-British causes in light of global Black Lives Matter protests. 'We have to fight against the odds of a racist system stacked against us and designed for us to fail from before we are even born," said the artist. Stormzy has a proven track record of progressive social justice work. In 2018, he launched a scholarship program for Black students to attend Cambridge University, which led to a direct increase on the amount of Black students enrolled there.

The 2017 Grenfell tragedy highlighted racial and economic disparities in the UK, and government's neglect of people in public housing. Some survivors of the tragedy struggled to get housing afterwards. Rising British-Gambian photographer Khadija Saye was one of the victims. Feelings of anger and sadness around the Grenfell tragedy are especially heightened now as Black people continue to protest for equality globally.

Later in his speech, the rapper urged viewers to never forget the victims of the tragedy even if it seems like the world has moved on. "Let this be a constant reminder, let this be a constant dark stain on British society in terms of that many lives lost and the world kept moving. There's not been any justice. Let that be a constant reminder," said Stormzy.

Check out the full event, which streamed virtually on YouTube on Sunday below.

REMEMBER GRENFELL - A special memorial for the 3rd Year Anniversary youtu.be

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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