Urban music is no stranger to success at the Mercury Prize. R&B superstar Ms. Dynamite set the standard in 2002. Dizzee Rascal’s seminal debut album Boy In Da Corner bagged the award in ‘03. Now Skepta’s historic, unexpected win on 15 September means even more. Grime’s recovery from the commercial, trite mediocrity of the past is finally complete. Grime is now the most important sound in the UK music scene.
Mercury Prize panels are not afraid to shock the public with surprise decisions. The relatively unknown Benjamin Clementine swept to victory last year, seemingly out of nowhere. Skepta’s unexpected victory denied the late great David Bowie one final posthumous accolade to cap an unprecedentedly influential musical career. The legendary memory of Bowie framed the entire ceremony, and Jarvis Cocker directly preceded the awards presentation with the idea that “David Bowie was looking down” on the soon to be crowned Tottenham MC.