In Thursday (15 September) night’s ceremony, a panel of musicians and industry experts chose Sketpa’s ‘Konnichiwa’ as the album most worthy of the £25,000 prize, ahead of recent releases from Radiohead, Bat For Lashes and eventual runner-up David Bowie.
Explaining the panel’s decision to give the prize to the grime album, judge Jarvis Cocker told the audience at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith: “We, as a jury, decided that if Bowie was looking down on the Hammersmith Apollo tonight, he would want the 2016 Hyundai Mercury Music Prize to go to Skepta.”
Following his victory, Skepta has now told the BBC he intends to put his Mercury Prize fund to good use.
He said: “Something positive, something to help other people feel as happy and as free as me. We’re doing a project right now, actually, building a studio in my old estate to help the young kids do music.”
Skepta released his fourth studio album, ‘Konnichiwa’, back in May, including collaborations with big names from the grime world including Wiley, Young Lord and Jme, as well as Pharrell Williams, who features on ‘Numbers’.
The critically-acclaimed album deals with important themes like police brutality, racism and the state of British politics in 2016.
Bowie’s final offering, ‘Blackstar’, which was released just weeks before his death in January, took second place on the night, which also featured a performance of the song ‘Lazarus’ by Michael C Hall in his honour.
Other nominees on this year’s shortlist included The 1975’s ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’, Laura Mvula’s ‘The Dreaming’ and fellow grime star Kano’s ‘Made In The Manor’.