Kendrick Lamar is one of the biggest hip-hop stars in the game right now, and last night he graced the Brit Awards with his presence.
The rapper was awarded the International Male Solo Artist gong and then took to the stage at the O2 Arena to perform a mash-up of FEEL. and his Rich The Kid collaboration New Freezer.
After a few technical difficulties, Kendrick delivered a blazing performance, showcasing his talent through his lyrics and showmanship as Rich The Kid smashed up a Lamborghini in a glass case below him.
Well, we think that’s what happened. As anybody not lucky enough to be in the O2 will know, most of Kendrick’s performance was muted while being broadcast on ITV.
Due to oh so shocking lyrics including ‘The world is endin’, I’m done pretendin’, and fuck you if you get offended’, the audio throughout Kendrick’s performance was muted, meaning ITV viewers only heard about half of the performance.
The Brits are notoriously touchy about swears being dropped on the live show. After returning to a live broadcast in 2007 following 16 years of being pre-recorded, the Brits decided to operate a time delay of a few seconds so they could mute out any naughty words in speeches or songs, so as not to offend viewers. The show starts at 8pm, which is an hour before the watershed.
But Kendrick’s performance aired just before 10pm, meaning it was way past the watershed. So what is the point of inviting a world class star to perform if you’re going to ruin it for everyone at home?
Back in 2015, Kanye West’s performance of All Day, which saw him invite a huge entourage of grime stars including Skepta, Stormzy and Krept and Konan on stage, was muted for most of the track due to Kanye’s use of the n-word. The performance was widely criticised as viewers at home barely knew what was happening.
ITV said of the controversy: ‘We have operated a short time delay as standard practice for some years on the show, to allow us to mute language that may be inappropriate for that wide audience, and elected to do so in this case, given the performance took place shortly after the 9pm watershed.’
And last year, Skepta’s performance of Shutdown was also a victim of muting due to his use of the word ‘pussy’ in the chorus.
The thing is, these aren’t surprise F, N or C-bombs. They’re in the lyrics in the songs that Brits bosses have vetted after asking these huge acts to perform. Yet those watching the ceremony on TV – the vast, vast majority of us – don’t get to enjoy the performances as they’re muted. Why would bosses put time, effort and money into getting global stars to North Greenwich when they’re going to essentially put on a mime show?
There’s serious double standards at play here. If a character in a 9pm drama uttered ‘shit’ or ‘bitch’, it would not be bleeped out. If a show contained violence even before the watershed, that usually gets by (albeit with some Ofcom complaints). But a rap song, after 9pm? Nah, not for our precious ears. And yes, it’s always rap, grime and hip-hop. Music that isn’t given a fair weight on mainstream awards shows and television is being erased even when it makes it on stage. A swear on Broadchurch? Fine. A swear from a rapper? Unacceptable.
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The whole point of the Brits is to celebrate the artists that they are censoring on stage. Giving Kendrick the best international male award, and then muting his starring performance, makes no sense. People tune in to the Brits to see the biggest artists in the world perform on one night (you know, in addition to celebs falling off stage, getting drunk and making awkward comments). If you take away the music, there’s no point.
Don’t make stars like Kendrick censor their art to make those three minutes more palatable to non-fans. Allow them to show why they’re on that stage in the first place, and bring back the Brits we all know and love. If we can handle violent dramas and bloody soap deaths, we can handle a few expletives past 9pm.
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