Perhaps the biggest prize in British music, the Mercury Music Prize (now known as the Hyundai Mercury Music Prize) is given to the year’s best album by a British or Irish act, as chosen by a panel of judges.
First awarded in 1992 to Primal Scream for Screamadelica, the prize has taken in a number records now considered classics — like Dummy by Portishead or Dizzee Rascal’s Boy in da Corner — as well as a few albums which have faded from the public consciousness (Bring It On by Gomez, anyone?).
Mercury Music Prize 2019
This year’s ceremony will take place in London on September 19th. Though the shortlist is not set to be revealed until July 25th, at least one bookmaker is already laying odds on likely winners.
According to SkyBet, the current clear favourite, at 5/2, is Psychodrama by South London rapper Dave. Alexis Petrides in the Guardian said that it was “the boldest album to emerge from UK hip-hop’s renaissance”, while indie Bible Pitchfork stated that Dave’s emotional honesty had the “unguarded catharsis of a therapy session.”
After many years of favouring guitar music, The Mercury Music Prize has become increasingly open to other genres. It was last awarded to a rapper in 2016, when Skepta’s Konnichiwa took the crown, beating out David Bowie’s swansong Blackstar in the process.
Also in the running at 4/1 is Slowthai, another British rapper, for his recently released Nothing Great About Britain. Joy as an Act of Resistance by Idles is at 8/1, while 80s legends The Specials are a longshot at 25/1 for their return album Encore.