After being plucked straight out of the crowd by Grime rapper, Dave, Alex Mann – better known as ‘Alex from Glasto’ – has gone viral for doing the bare minimum, which is not a surprise for a white man in this day and age. As a “die-hard fan” of Dave, Alex naturally performed AJ Tracey’s line on Dave’s track “Thiago Silva” note-perfect, garnering 15.6K retweets and 87.9K likes on the video posted onto BBC One’s Twitter account alone, with some positing that Alex’s performance wasn’t as spontaneous as it seemed. Alex has since been invited onto Good Morning Britain, a talk-show hosted by the infamous Piers Morgan and Susanne Reid. It’s safe to say that being praised by the likes of Morgan is already a red flag in itself but that’s not the point here. Alex going viral and the accolades and praises he has earned open up uncomfortable questions about what if he hadn’t been white or why his “violent language” has been deemed acceptable by British media when the predominantly Black genre of grime has been blamed and accused of inciting violence and aggression in teens?
Get this kid a record deal!
— BBC One (@BBCOne) June 30, 2019
Morgan said Alex’s show of White mediocrity “slayed it” and the BBC called for a “record deal” to be given to him. These praises are targeted at a white boy who did nothing more than recite the lyrics of a Grime song – the same lyrics and genre that are blamed for London’s recent wave of violent crimes, and are “stifled by institutionalised racism”. If a white teenager who supposedly spontaneously rapped a verse from a grime song centring on imagery of firearms and murder deserves a “record deal” and a spot on morning television, then what about all the Black artists who do the same but are demonized and shunned away?
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) July 3, 2019
There is something deeply unsettling about a white teen being praised for imitating a predominantly black genre that has been delegitimised and used as a scapegoat for thinly veiled racism, especially when the praise comes from Piers Morgan, who is himself notorious for his racism and bigotry. Alex became a legendary figure basically overnight for rapping about “.44 Magnums” and “.45 caliber pistols” on morning television while grime artists such as MC Skepta who appeared on the same programme to promote his latest album was asked about the soaring rates of violent crime in London and “[the] battles that young people are facing” by Reid as a ‘concerned mother’. MC Skepta is just one example of many Black Grime Artists who, unlike Alex, are interrogated and quizzed about the violence that their music allegedly promotes. Why does Alex deserve to receive 108,000 followers in a single day while many independent, Black Grime artists such as Dave himself are overlooked and demonized?
Just logging onto Twitter to see the boy Alex has got 108,000 followers in a day wtf
— SANTAN (@Santandave1) July 2, 2019
While Alex is only a child and this treatment is most likely not his fault at all, the reception of his surprise performance is deeply problematic. A white boy can get up on stage with his favourite artist to recite someone else’s lyrics and get offered multiple record deals as well as receive accolades from the same people who villainise and interrogate the Black artists who produced the lyrics in the first place.
Featured Image via TIMMSY.