Stormzy has asked that diversity is not used as a “buzz word” or “a box to tick” while accepting an award acknowledging his work to improve diversity in music.
The British rapper has been honoured with the diversity champion award by the Association of Independent Music (AIM) Awards, which took place in London on Wednesday.
Speaking in a pre-recorded acceptance speech, Stormzy said: “I encourage everyone in the room today to not just use diversity as a buzz word, but for you lot, whatever position you’re in, whatever role you play, to really be a driving factor for it and not just see it as a quota or as a box to tick.
“Really see the worth and the value in being diverse. Thank you to the AIM Awards and God be the glory.”
The 29-year-old grime artist has used his platform to try to level the playing field in the music industry and beyond through his charity #Merky Foundation and #Merky Books, a collaboration with publisher Penguin Random House.
Elsewhere on the night, fellow grime artist and rapper Lethal Bizzle scooped the outstanding contribution to music award and also performed during the ceremony at London’s Roundhouse.
Increasingly popular indie rock duo Wet Leg – compromising of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers – were awarded the gong for UK independent breakthrough, while Nova Twins – made up of Amy Love and Georgia South – secured the award for best independent track for Antagonist after a similar upward trajectory in 2022.
The Libertines received special recognition for their highly successful career and influence on guitar music – and the band’s record label Rough Trade Records was also recognised, receiving the award for best independent label.
British singer-songwriter Cleo Sol took home best independent album for her second studio album Mother, and Nilufer Yanya won the award for best second album for her release Painless.
The 2022 AIM awards also saw the introduction of two new categories, best independent EP/mixtape and music entrepreneur of the year, with Scottish producer TAAHLIAH‘s Angelica and Corey Johnson winning respectively.
Johnson was recognised for his work founding The Digital Holdings studio to create a safe space in the UK rap scene.
Nia Archives was named this year’s one to watch, which has previously been won by the likes of Arlo Parks and British rapper Enny.
American rapper and songwriter Blxst was awarded the international breakthrough award after the success of his recent debut album Before You Go and his appearance on Kendrick Lamar’s latest album Mr Morale & the Big Steppers.
— AIM (@AIM_UK) September 28, 2022
With over 29,000 votes cast by fans across the category, Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski emerged victorious as the best live performer and British DJ D.O.D claimed the award for most played new independent artist.
There were also wins for Jeshi, who claimed the best independent video award for his song 3210, while Champion’s reimagining of Ibeyi’s Lavender & Red Roses ft Jorja Smith was named as best independent remix.
Canadian musician and artist Maylee Todd secured the award for best creative campaign for her album Maloo. Meanwhile, after celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, Local Action won best boutique label.