Wednesday 7 December 2016

Grime artist Skepta takes Mercury Prize in shock win over David Bowie

Published 16/09/2016 | 00:16

Mercury Prize winner Skepta with presenter Jarvis Cocker
Mercury Prize winner Skepta with presenter Jarvis Cocker

Grime artist Skepta has been awarded the 25th Mercury Prize ahead of favourite David Bowie.

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He collected the £25,000 prize for his fourth studio album Konnichiwa at a prize-giving ceremony at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, west London on Thursday night.

The album was released on his self-run record label Boy Better Know which he set up with his brother JME in 2005.

Skepta, from Tottenham, north London, dedicated the win to his mother and used the victory as a cry for young people to express themselves.

"Shout out to my mum. I love you - you are the reason. I wouldn't be here without you so thank you very much mum, you can dance as much as you want."

The self-proclaimed king of grime said he wanted to use the prize money to do something positive to help people feel "happy and free".

He added: "I want them [young people] to be themselves."

The win caps a momentous year for grime music which has seen a resurgence after it first appeared in the mainstream when Dizzee Rascal won the Mercury Prize in 2003 for his record Boy In Da Corner.

Skepta said he thinks the win will mean "more people are going to listen to grime" but added he wanted to inspire other genres too.

"I wouldn't say it's a grime revolution. This is a really good time for grime but I think this is a revolution for freedom. Not just in music."

Skepta was joined on the 12-strong shortlist by fellow grime artist Kano who earlier said it was "crazy" for the pair to be nominated.

The duo started their careers playing their music on London's infamous underground pirate radio stations.

"We could have never imagined we'd be here nominated amongst some of the people that are nominated today. It feels like a real landmark year in our genre's history. It's a big moment for us both," said Kano.

Skepta also paid tribute after his win to Bowie, whose album Blackstar - which explores the themes of illness, death and heaven - was released in January on the star's 69th birthday and just two days before he died from cancer.

He said: "Every artist should be just striving to put out the best work that they can do because anything can happen. You can go any time which is the reason I said rest in peace to David Bowie."

The ceremony had earlier paid tribute to Bowie with Blackstar track Lazarus being performed by Dexter star Michael C Hall who is launching a stage production of the same name in London next month.

Blackstar was joined on the shortlist by Laura Mvula for her record The Dreaming Room, Making Time by Jamie Woon, Made In The Manor by Kano, Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka, Channel The Spirits by The Comet Is Coming, Anohni's Hopelessness, Adore Life by Savages The 1975's I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool and The Bride by Bat For Lashes.

This was reduced to a final six during the ceremony which included Bowie, Radiohead, The 1975, Kiwanuka, Mvula and eventual winner Skepta.

Former winners of the prestigious prize include James Blake, Pulp and Arctic Monkeys. Last year Benjamin Clementine triumphed for his debut album At Least For Now.

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