When the shortlist for the 2019 Mercury Prize was announced earlier in the year and I saw some of my favourite albums of 2018-19 in the running for one of more wide-reaching & diverse awards in British music, I had a thought to myself. "This'll be a pivotal one."
Now I don't want to hype the mere existence of the Mercury Prize but it's true that the core concept of it, purpose built to celebrate and reach into all corners of UK music, is better than something like The BRIT Awards where it's more about commercial appeal & sales numbers.
It turns out, that my initial thoughts were manifested. And now I'm here to focus on a specific genre compared to a more broader scope that I've explored recently. UK Rap, not Grime, not UK Hip-Hop, UK RAP, is gearing up to own the next decade. And this year's winner of the Mercury Prize, Dave, can be the one to lead that charge.
Now I'm not going to hail Dave as the next King of UK Rap or anything, because he hasn't proclaimed that he wants that title. But let me say this right now. If he ever does mention that he wants that title and be the leader of this wave that we're experiencing right now, I WILL be right here to ring that bell. Think about the album that won him not just the Mercury but also the Ivor Novello. "Pychodrama" isn't just an album that takes us on a journey through a damaged mind with sharp punchlines, outstanding storytelling & (Oxymoron incoming.) refreshing yet ice cold production. He delivered an album of such depth, with all those qualities, at the age of 21.
"Psychodrama" is an album that artists/peers 10-15 years older than him could only wish they had that level of depth.
And the fact that it beat out Little Simz who's one of the best pens in the game, slowthai who's single handedly bringing punk/rap back to the forefront and even The 1975 who are one of the most popular bands in recent memory is all the more remarkable. Whilst the BRIT Awards will most likely find a way not to give their awards to people like Dave or Simz, it's getting harder and harder for them to ignore the brilliance coming out of the UK Rap & Hip-Hop scenes right now.
The genre is starting to evolve into work that is objectively worthy of note. Stormzy's "Gang Signs And Prayer" was just the beginning. (There were albums before GSAP that had the same qualities but GSAP did numbers) No longer is it just about getting lit at parties or just flex bars. (Although they're always welcome!) The depth is evident, they're getting personal and Dave is a shining example of that depth and personal skin shedding that is bled into the lyrics.
Just watch, UK Rap has got the 2020's on lock. You heard it here first.