Skepta has won the 2016 Mercury Music Prize for his self-released fourth album, Konnichiwa. The Tottenham-born MC picked up the prestigious award last night despite facing tough competition from David Bowie, Radiohead, Anohni and Savages.
Skepta – real name Joseph Junior Adenuga – is the first grime artist to win the award since Dizzee Rascal’s Boy in da Corner in 2003. “Thank you to everybody who was there for me when I was going through depressed times,” a visibly shocked Adenuga said after the winner was announced. “I don’t know, man, I’m so thankful… With no record label we just travelled the world.”
The industry prize was expected to go to David Bowie’s Blackstar, the first posthumous nomination in the award’s history. However, the judges – who included Clara Amfo, Jarvis Cocker and Annie Mac – decided to ignore the bookie’s odds. “We as a jury decided that if David Bowie was looking down on the Hammersmith Apollo tonight, he would want the 2016 prize to go to Skepta,” said Cocker.
The £25,000 prize money that accompanies the award will, according to Skepta, go towards “something positive”. “(I want to do) something to help other people feel as happy and as free as me,” he told the BBC last night. “We’re doing a project right now, actually, building a studio in my old estate to help the young kids do music.”
Watch Skepta (and his amazing mum) pick up the award below: