In 2016, UK Grime rapper Skepta made history as the first of his genre to win the coveted Mercury Prize, an annual music prize awarded for the best album from the United Kingdom and Ireland, for his album Konnichiwa. Now, three more rappers are poised to replicate his feat; Stormzy has been nominated for his stellar debut Gang Signs & Prayer, along with J Hus’ Common Sense. They join fellow UK rapper Loyle Carner as the only representatives of rap-derived genres in a field that includes Ed Sheeran, Sampha, Glass Animals, The Big Moon, Blossoms, Dinosaur, Alt-j, and The Xx. Rap has become the most popular genre in the United States; it looks like the UK might be next on the world takeover list.
Stormzy especially has been an Uproxx fave this year, with his video for “Cold,” celebrating Gang Signs & Prayer going gold, and his cover of Frank Ocean’s “Godspeed” being standouts. He also featured on Linkin Park’s breakup anthem, “Good Goodbye.” Grime itself has experienced a tremendous resurgence recently, after falling out of mainstream favor for the better part of the last decade. J Hus and Loyle Carner have similarly experienced critical acclaim with the more traditional hip-hop releases Common Sense and Yesterday’s Gone, respectively.
These three MCs are putting UK rap and grime back on the map, and a win for either would be great for the genre not only outside the U.S., but in it as well, as these are talents that deserve all the attention in the world. Besides, a win for one is a win for all; hip-hop’s popularity will only increase, no matter who takes it.
The full list of Mercury Prize nominees is below.
Alt-j — Relaxer
Blossoms — Blossoms
Dinosaur — Together, As One
Ed Sheeran — ÷
Glass Animals — How To Be A Human Being
J Hus — Common Sense
Kate Tempest — Let The Eat Chaos
Loyle Carner — Yesterday’s Gone
Sampha — Process
Stormzy — Gang Signs & Prayer
The Big Moon — Love In The 4th Dimension
The xx — I See You