LONDON, BALIPOST.com – Angst-filled rapper Dave scooped up Britain’s coveted Mercury Prize on Thursday 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 a jaded 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 from small-town England — and the bookies’ early favourite.
“Fuck Boris Johnson!” he screamed as he took the stage, stripped to his waste, a mask of the right-wing UK leader in his hand.
But Dave, a 21-year-old South London rapper whose album “Psychodrama” is a full-frontal assault on institutional racism, softly asked his mom to join him on stage after holding up the winning statuette.
“I did not expect this,” he admitted, his left hand draping his mother’s shoulder.
Dave’s two siblings have served time in prison and he devoted his award to one of them, Christophe, who “inspired this album”.
“This is your story that we told, even though you can’t be here,” Dave said.
– Going green –
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.
The list defines the two leading musical nations’ shift from indie rock to Britpop to, more recently, grime and its dark, in-your-face hiphop style.
“Tell us we used to be barbaric, we had actual queens. Black is watchin’ child soldiers gettin’ killed by other children,” Dave hypnotically chants in the hit track “Black”.
“The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice. A kid dies, the blacker the killer, the sweeter the news.”
Dave first made headlines when Canadian superstar Drake remixed his 2016 single “Wanna Know”.
Adding another political twist, the Oxford rock band Foals wore Extinction Rebellion stickers and shared their support for the climate activists, led by the Swedish teen Greta Thunberg. (AFP)