London rapper Speech Debelle last night won the Mercury Music Prize for the best album with ‘Speech Therapy’. For the first time ever, the TV show featured performances by all nominees.
Respect to Crystal Palace born Corynne Elliot, aka Speech Debelle, for clinching the Mercury Prize 2009, sponsored by Barclaycard. Debelle is a relatively unknown UK rapper signed to the Big Dada label which gained recognition with Roots Manuva, one of the most respected artists on the UK Hip Hop scene. Debelle’s debut album ‘Speech Therapy’ is a smooth slice of Soul Jazz Hip Hop reminiscing about Debelle’s days on the streets.
Speech Debelle Does ‘The Key’ On YouTube
The jury liked the contrast between sweet delivery and sad reality stories. I can see the attraction, but ‘Speech Therapy’ sails too close to the Acid Jazz sound of yore for my liking. Not a bad sound back in 1992. Remember the Brand New Heavies? It’s cool, but a bit too slick for me.
Ireland’s own Lisa Hannigan scored a Mercury nomination for her debut album ‘See Sew’. Again, there’s a revival thing going on here, but the folky singer with the big voice is worth a listen. It’s been a long way for Hannigan from an instore performance at Road Records in Dublin to prime time telly on the Beeb.
Turning the Mercury Prize into a Joolz Holland style TV show with a number of different performances is a stroke of genius. The programming of the awards has always been very inclusive - something for everybody - and lends itself to a variety style evening show. Now that all nominees get to play, the BBC gets a new music show with spin-off potential and the Mercurys are saved from the fangs of obscurity.
Florence And The Machine, Glasvegas, La Roux and Friendly Fires were also among the Mercury nominees. If you ask me, then Friendly Fires’ self-titled album is my favourite of the 2009 Mercury nominations. ‘Friendly Fires’ is far from flawless but it has that nervous energy and edgy groove that you find on Talking Heads records without trying too hard to sound like a period piece.