Grime star Skepta beat David Bowie, Radiohead and a host of other musicians to become the surprise winner the Mercury Music Prize for his album Konnichiwa on Thursday night.
The 34-year-old rapper, whose real name is Joseph Junior Adenuga, was a first-time nominee and seemed utterly shocked as the announcement was read out. Jarvis Cocker said the win was what David Bowie would have wanted.
Shaking his head in disbelief at hosts Lauren Laverne and Cocker as he climbed up on stage, he appeared overwhelmed and humbled by the award. His mum and dad stood alongside him as he gave his acceptance speech, his mum in tears mouthing “my god”.
The full text is below:
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
“The person who’s on the mic always gets seen. Firstly I want to say thank you to every single person that made Konnichiwa happen. For everyone who knows what it takes to put an album together, it’s so much more than just making the music.
Everybody who was there for me when I was going through depressed times – rest in peace Lukey – everybody who makes the show work, Spence, T, a shout – not even a shout out, a thank you to Rada, Grace, Sam. Wow. Jake. Toby Smith, Angelic for letting me record and smoke out his studio and his house. Like I don’t know man, I’m just so thankful.
I’ve been trying to do this music stuff and work it out for so long, but it was the moment when I was like yo, let’s do this for ourselves, for the family, all these songs travelled the world, no record label or nothing, they just travelled the world. We just did this for us, but the love is very appreciated. Love you bro, love you Matt. Kane. For life bro, we did it. And lastly, my mum and dad.
All my friends mums and dads because they made us, they gave us that voice in our head that’s talking to keep us in line, to keep us in check, thank you very much. Everybody else nominated, we all won today, we all get to take the trophy home. More blessings, more love, more greatness, more support.”
Skepta said he was going to use the £25,000 he won in the award to do “something positive and something to help other people feel as happy and as free as me.”
He told the BBC backstage: “We’re doing a project right now, actually, building a studio in my old estate to help the young kids do music.”
Lukey Maxwell was a 22-year-old musician from Tottenham who appeared in one of Skepta’s music videos. He was found collapsed on the streets on June 5 2015 and later pronounced dead. Although a man was charged with his murder the case against him was later dropped. Skepta wrote a song called “Lukey World” paying tribute to his friend.