LONDON (AFP) – Angst-filled rapper Dave scooped up Britain’s coveted Mercury Prize on Thursday (Sept 19) in a politically-charged London finale that included an expletive shouted from stage at Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
A new wave of 12 rebellious voices vied for the 2019 edition of British or Irish album of the year.
Rage against injustice coursed through the lyrics and spilled into interviews, reflecting an era in which Britain is cutting ties with Europe and economic worries weigh.
Few expressed those frustrations more explicitly than Slowthai, a 24-year-old rapper, and the bookies’ early favourite.
But Dave, a 21-year-old London rapper whose album Psychodrama is a full-frontal assault on institutional racism, softly asked his mum to join him on stage after holding up the winning statuette.
His two siblings have served time in prison and he devoted his award to one of them, Christophe, who “inspired this album”.
Created in 1992 as an alternative to the more mainstream Brit Awards, the Mercury Prize’s past winners have included PJ Harvey, Pulp and Skepta.
Adding another political twist, rock band Foals wore Extinction Rebellion stickers and shared their support for climate activists, led by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg.
The judges wrote that this year’s event “celebrates both the striking diversity of British and Irish music-makers and their shared purpose in exploring issues of identity and belonging at a time of division and disagreement”.