Grime MC Skepta has won the Mercury Prize with his album Konnichiwa, beating the late David Bowie’s Blackstar which had been tipped to win the award.
Tottenham-born Joseph “Junior” Adenuga began making music as Skepta with his brother Jamie – who is now better known as grime producer JME – as part of grime outfit Meridian Crew, but despite three previous releases, it has taken until his fourth record for him to gain critical appreciation.
Picking up the award last night Skepta thanked everybody who had supported him and was there for him during, what he referred to has his “depressed times”. He was visibly shocked to win and said he was, “so thankful.” He also paid tribute to fellow-nominee and grime artist Kano saying, “Kano did this for us and the love is there. Kano, love you for life man.”
It has been 13 years since a grime artist was nominated and picked up the award, but Skepta refused to attribute the success of his fourth album to grime’s increased popularity in recent years.
“It’s cool that people are saying that grime came back,” he said, “but things happened in my life and I had to realise that I didn’t care about certain things. I’m back. They like it now because of me.”
Now in its 25th year, the Mercury is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the industry. Jarvis Cocker, Annie Mac and BBC Radio 1’s Clara Amfo were among this year’s judges.
Bookies had long held the late David Bowie’s Blackstar as favourite to win the award. Bowie’s 25th studio album, Blackstar was his first and only album to reach number one on the Billboard 200 album chart in the US, and in the wake of his death reached No.1 in over 30 countries.
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