Banksy strikes again, this time at Britain’s most popular music festival. On Friday evening, British grime rapper Stormzy performed at the Glastonbury music festival in Somerset in the United Kingdom while donning a “stab-proof vest” designed by none other than the elusive street artist. The vest, painted with a monochromatic version of the Union Jack flag, is a commentary on the wave of knife crimes in the country.
“Last night I headlined Glastonbury in a stab-proof vest custom made by the greatest, most iconic living artist on planet earth, the one and only BANKSY,” Stomzy wrote in an Instagram post. Banksy, on his end, posted a backstage picture of Stormzy wearing his vest with the caption: “I made a customised stab-proof vest and thought – who could possibly wear this? Stormzy at Glastonbury.”
After his performance of Friday, Stomzy became the first Black British artist to headline Glastonbury in its 49-year history. At age 25, he is also one of the youngest solo acts to be featured at the festival, second only to David Bowie, who was 24-years-old when he performed at Glastonbury in 1971.
In another political moment, Stormzy’s performance sampled fragments from a speech by Labour politician David Lammy on the disproportional incarceration of Black citizens in the UK while crime statistics flashed on the screens behind the rapper. “The system isn’t working,” Lammy is heard saying, “if recidivism rates are 46% for black men, then something isn’t working.” Later on, Stormzy invited Black ballet dancers on stage, noting that ballet shoes made to match dark skin tones were not available until recently.
In his previous performance at the festival in 2017, the politically outspoken South London MC criticized Theresa May’s government for failing to support the families that have been affected by the Grenfell Fire in West London, which took the lives of 71 people. “We urge the authorities to tell the fucking truth, first and foremost,” Stormzy said on stage. “We urge them to do something. We urge the fucking government to be held accountable for the fuckery, and we ain’t gonna stop until we get what we deserve.”