BY CALUM FRASER
South London upstarts are looking to topple pop and rock royalty in this year’s Mercury Prize.
Lewisham-born grime rapper Novelist is up against established names like Noel Gallagher, Lily Allen, Arctic Monkeys and Florence and the Machine for the coveted award.
Novelist, real name Kojo Kankam, wrote and produced his album Novelist Guy in April this year.
“You never know where the music is going to take you,” the 21-year-old told NME. “I feel really happy that people value my music on a major scale, because that is how I value my music when I am making it.
“I feel like I’ve got an A star.
“It [the album] is very DIY. I produced it myself, wrote it myself. It’s a very positive album as well. It is a reflection of my personality – who I am day to day. It’s a breath of fresh air for those who haven’t heard that sort of music in a while.”
The Hyundai Mercury Prize tries to promote the best of UK and Irish music through the celebration of the 12 Albums of the Year.
The Prize has no categories, and is open to all genres of music. There are 12 shortlisted ‘Albums of the Year’ and one overall winner, who receives a cash prize of £25,000.
Novelist said: “It’s [the prize money] something I would have to ponder on, it’s something I’d actually have to think about, because 25 grand, that is not a small amount of money. To some it may be, but to me it is not a small amount of money.”
Noel Gallagher is believed to be worth around £45million, while Arctic Monkey’s lead singer Alex Turner is estimated to be worth £22million.
“My only competition is me,” Novelist said: “God has taken me this far, wherever he takes me, I am going to go. I hope the best for everyone else who is shortlisted.”
Stephen Lawrence’s mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence also features in this year’s Mercury Prize as one of the albums is dedicated to her.
Stephen was murdered in Eltham by a gang of white youths 25 years ago whose death became a rallying point for anti-racist groups in South London.
Baroness Lawrence has campaigned for justice for her teen son’s murder, shaping policy and reforming an “institutionally racist” police force.
Jazz group Sons of Kemet present alternative female figures to replace the Queen in their album Your Queen Is A Reptile. Baroness Lawrence is one of the figures presented as an alternative queen.
Peckham guitarist and singer King Krule also made it on to the shortlist with his album The Ooz.
An independent panel of judges selects the shortlist. The judges listen to all the albums that have been entered over many months. They then meet to decide the winner.
This year the judges include Clapham-born musician Jessie Ware, Mumford and Sons frontman Marcus Mumford and DJ and broadcaster MistaJam.
The winner of the 2018 Hyundai Mercury Prize will be announced at an awards ceremony at Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith on Thursday, September 20.
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