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Dave - Black (Live)

Black was released as a single from Dave's album Psychodrama (2019) which won the Mercury Prize in 2020. The video for this single (warning explicit content) features many prominent black British people such as Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling, fashion designer Oswald Boateng, and Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE who started her studies at Oxford University when she was only 15 years old, and is Oxford's youngest master's graduate. They all represent some of the most successful and talented young black people in the UK; shining examples to others that anything is possible.

"Black is pain, black is joy, black is evident, It's workin' twice as hard as the people you know you're better than."

'Black' was played on national radio stations, but received a barrage of complaints from some members of the public, claiming that the song was racist against white people. DJ Annie Mac came to Dave's defence tweeting:

Dave performed the same song live at the BRIT awards in early 2020 but added an extra verse at the end. He called Boris Johnson a racist, brought attention to the Grenfell disaster, and spoke of how the British media had treated Kate and Meghan very differently. Whether you agree with Dave or not, the fact is, here is a 22-year-old man talking about his experience of being black in the UK. Although his experience is not representative of all black boys and girls, there are many elements of black British life which many children and adults alike will be familiar with. His, their, and our experiences, need to be listened to if the UK is to get to the heart of systemic racism which many have tried to ignore for decades.

This performance also provides a great example of how classical music can be used by unfamiliar faces (for some), in unfamiliar genres.

"We want rehabilitation - now that would be amazing, But Grenfell victims still need accommodation, And we still need support for the Windrush Generation, Reparations for the time our people spent on plantations."

  • What do you notice about the other piano player?

  • Is this in a major or minor key?

  • How did Dave structure this performance?

  • How would you describe the texture of the strings?

  • Why do you think some people weren't happy about this performance?

  • Do you know any other rappers who have used elements of classical music in their music?

  • What is 'black' to you?

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