For taking grime to the top of the charts
Who: Tottenham-raised grime icon
Why: Grime’s storming comeback was the big British music story of 2016, and scene veteran Skepta was the face and focal point of that resurrection. Skepta started the year by signing Drake to his Boy Better Know imprint – a deal Drake sealed by getting tattooed with the BBK logo. He then took his own career next-level with the release of his much-hyped, much-delayed fourth album, the mighty ‘Konnichiwa’. Generating the biggest buzz around a grime release since Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Boy In Da Corner’ back in 2003, ‘Konnichiwa’ built up enough forward momentum to bag the Mercury Prize in September. It crowned a glorious year for both Skepta and the scene that he’d helped to bring back from the dead.
What he says: “My album came out in May. I was on a flight to Toronto the next day to play a show and they knew all the words to the new songs. The next day! You think when I was a kid I ever thought that would happen?”
What people say about him: “‘Konnichiwa’ is such a great record – confident, funny, clever, scary, personal and political. Skepta makes music for our times” – Mercury Prize judging panel
How he made the world a better place: Skepta showed us what can be achieved when you combine laser-like focus with a punk-rock, DIY, no-sell-out ethos.