Independent Artist Skepta Beats Bowie, Radiohead To Become Upset Winner Of 2016 Mercury Prize
Everyone thought that David Bowie was the deservedly sentimental shoe-in for this year's Mercury Prize, even though the prize for the UK album of the year had never been given posthumously. Instead the winner, Skepta, was a major upset.
33-year-old independent grime artist Skepta, a.k.a. Joseph Junior Adenuga, was the surprise upset winner of the 2016 Mercury Prize for his fourth album, Konnichiwa.
The Mercury Prize includes a £25,000 award from the British Phonographic Industry and British Association of Record Dealers for what a panel of judges considers to be the best album from the UK that year. It is intended to offer a counterbalance to more fan and sales driven popularity contests.
Skepta beat out such established favorites David Bowie and Radiohead; and he did so as a truly independent artist.
"If David Bowie was looking down on the Hammersmith Apollo tonight, he would want the Mercury Prize to go to….," teased former nominee and judge Jarvis Cocker announcing Skepta as this year's winner.
— BBC Music (@bbcmusic) September 15, 2016
"no record label, nothing"
"For everybody who knows what it takes to put an album together, cos it's so much more than just making the music… I've been trying to do this music stuff and work it out for so long….," he said during his Mercury acceptance speech. "I was like 'let's do it for ourselves'. All these songs, we've travelled the world - no record label, nothing. We just did this for us, but the love is very appreciated."
Skepta releases all of his music on his own Boy Better Know label, but some major artists, including Pharrell. have become his champions. "This is really reassuring me to follow what I think," he told the BBC backstage after receiving the award. "I want to say thank you to every single person that made Konnichiwa happen."