LONDON (AFP) – London rapper Little Simz on Tuesday won Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize for album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, beating off competition from One Direction singer Harry Styles, among others.
The 28-year-old said she was “very, very overwhelmed” as she picked up the GBP25,000 prize at the London ceremony, and paid tribute to her brother and collaborator Inflo.
“We created this album together, there were times in the studio I didn’t know if I was going to finish this record, I was feeling all the emotions and really going through it and he stuck by me and pushed me to deliver,” she said.
The artist, real name Simbiatu ‘Simbi’ Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, explores personal and political themes on her fourth album.
She told the Guardian outlet that the album expressed her feeling of “being this introverted person that has all these crazy thoughts and ideas and theories in my head and not always feeling like I’m able to express it if it’s not through my art”.
The award ceremony at the legendary Apollo venue in Hammersmith, west London was broadcast by the BBC, and featured performances by all of the acts, although Styles had to pre-record his.
Created in 1992 as an alternative to the more mainstream Brit Awards, the prize is seen as a seal of critical approval and a springboard to wider fame. But Styles, already a global superstar, also made the final cut for his album Harry’s House, the fastest-selling UK album of 2022 so far.
Brit Award winner Sam Fender was another high-profile artist on the shortlist for his second album Seventeen Going Under, which tackles the issue of social deprivation in his native North East England.
Recognising the best British or Irish album of the last 12 months, the Mercury has previously gone to acts like Pulp, Arctic Monkeys and PJ Harvey.
Also included in this year’s 12-artist shortlist were art pop singer Self Esteem, previously of indie band Slow Club, for her album Prioritise Please, a celebration of femininity.
Folk singer Gwenno, whose album Tresor is sung mostly in Cornish also made the list, along with indie duo Wet Leg, post-metallers Nova Twins and Scottish jazz act Fergus McCreadie.