slowthai holds up Boris Johnson’s ‘head’ in his Mercury Prize performance


slowthai has sparked controversy for holding up a model of Boris Johnson’s severed head on-stage at the Mercury Prize awards.

The UK rapper was performing his track “Doorman” – from his album Nothing Great About Britain, which had been nominated for the prize –  at the ceremony last night (September 19).  

During the show, the rapper shouted: “Fuck Boris Johnson! Fuck everything! And there ain’t nothing Great about Britain.” He also showed off a “Fuck Boris” t-shirt. At the end of the performance, he picked up the model of Johnson’s head and held it up to the crowd.

Following the performance, host Lauren Laverne responded: “slowthai, with his own views there”.

slowthai started selling the “Fuck Boris” t-shirts that he wore on-stage after the set via his online store, and posed with the severed head in a photo on Instagram.

Ultimately, Nothing Great About Britain didn’t win the Mercury Prize – rapper Dave took home the award for his debut album Psychodrama.

The performance proved controversial, with online commentary split between some people praising slowthai for his political statement and defending his right to free speech, and others calling it irresponsible in the current political climate.

The severed head moment was cut from the BBC’s upload of the performance on YouTube, but it’s possible to see it via Instagram and videos taken by people at the event.

Check out the full performance of “Doorman” below.

Update (4:44PM): slowthai has posted a statement about his performance to Twitter. The rapper said: “Last night I held a mirror up to this country and some people don’t like the reflection. The people in power who are trying to isolate and divide us aren’t the ones who will feel its effects the hardest. This ‘act’ was a metaphor for what this government is doing to our country, except what I did was present it in plain sight.” Read the full statement here.





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