Scottish Hip-Hop trio win 23rd Mercury Music Prize
So the 2014 Mercury Music Prize has been announced. This year’s winners are Young Fathers. When the album came out I waxed lyrical about how good it was, so it does look like I do know what I’m talking about. In your face detractors!!!!
On a personal note I’m glad that Young Fathers won. Firstly because it is a strong debut album full of interesting ideas, clever lyrics and inspired beats. They make the kind of music that comes from a place free of restraints. It was made simply for the love of music, and not for chart positions. Young Fathers could easily have followed the Hip-Pop blueprint and made generic music, but they strove to make something different and have been awarded for it. The fact that they won the prize (and the £20,000) means that they can now make a follow up whenever they’re ready. Secondly they are signed to my favourite record label (Ninja Tune) so any accolades they get I relish. Thirdly I’m glad that they prevented Royal Blood from winning the gong. While I don’t think that the Royal Blood album is bad, I personally like the intensity that two instruments can make, I just find the album boring and I’d rather listen to Kyuss instead.
Over recent years the Mercury has faced some criticism as its point isn’t certain. While other awards are given due to sales or popularity, the Mercury has always been more obtuse. If the award was given solely on sales then Damon Albarn or Royal Blood would have won. If it was on obscure artists and albums then the ‘jazz’ album would win every year (it never has). Originally point might have been to highlight albums that the mainstream might have missed, but that doesn’t explain M People’s win in 1993. This lack of consistency is frustrating as it means picking a winner is nigh on impossible as the parameters are too vague. Asking if electronica is better than indie is like trying to unlock a door with an orange.
Maybe this is the point of the Mercury? It generates dialogues about the music, and ultimately the award itself. Thanks to the award four albums have now been exposed to a wider audience, three have been given an extra push, five tours will definitely sell out (if they haven’t already) and one has been given a nod for crafting something ‘worthy’. I’ll let you work out which albums are which. Massive congratulations to Young Fathers and let’s hope that the Mercury curse doesn’t hit them like it did Gomez, Badly Drawn Boy, Ms. Dynamite, Klaxons and Speech Debelle…