The world’s best known Grime MC, Skepta, made history last night for his 2016 album Konnichiwa, going home with the trophy for the annual Mercury Prize award after beating many famous artists from the United Kingdom and Ireland including the legend David Bowie.
Jarvis Cocker announced the award winner saying, “If David Bowie was looking down on the Hammersmith Apollo tonight – and maybe he is, we’ve seen traces of his influence in many of the acts tonight – he would want the 2016 Mercury Prize to go to Skepta”
33 year-old Londoner released his album Konnichiwa earlier this year defining Grime as a seriously creative and progressive genre. The genre has been predominantly based around singles, pressed riddims and pirate radio broadcasting for many years so for an established and well-presented album to come from Skepta, it has shown the world a more clear insight into street culture. Over the past year the rapper has been extremely busy taking his music around the world – without the backing of any major, or minor, label – Konnichiwa was created and released 100% independently through his own label, ‘Boy Better Know.’ Creating your own brand in what you are passionate about, instead of relying on large corporations to come and help you out is an ideal the artist is well known for believing in.
After winning the award Skepta dedicated the accolade to loved ones and those who journeyed with him stating it was for “everybody who knows what it takes to put an album together… Everybody who was there for me when I was going through depressed times”.
However, these tough times clearly didn’t hold him back as he took over the Brits this year not only with fellow Brits but America’s favourite villain Kanye West. The international treatment is a new trait for a Grime artist and his close friendships with people like Drake has led to him spreading his music to places like the USA, Canada and Japan. The BBK brand is forever growing, even away from the music, as Skepta has also dipped his toe into fashion shows, documentaries and fundraising activities with much aplomb. He plans to invest the £25,000 from his Mercury Prize into building a studio on his childhood estate.
— PLTFRM SE7EN (@PLTFRM_SE7EN) September 15, 2016
The Konnichiwa album represents British Street culture today and will go down in history as an important political victory for those fighting against racial inequality. The album features 12 tracks expressing street culture, power, money, police brutality, politics and opposition. Despite being well known as a club scene staple, “That’s Not Me” is also the perfect example of Skepta’s true sound with honest lyrics underlying the quality melody making. Clearing any confusions on what type of person he might be, he explains he has no time for designer clothes and showing off, all he cares about is inspiring others, helping his family grow, having the freedom to do music his way.
“I want to inspire freedom, not just in music, not just in grime”
Skepta shows Black British people that times are changing and with hard work you can make a success out of yourself without losing your integrity. I also believe Skepta’s success has made way for a new mindset that street culture in Britain is no longer being ignored. It is becoming impossible to miss now and we are all hoping victories like this lead to the country as a whole taking notice of the less fortunate lifestyle and doing something about it.