Oh. That was unexpected. Speech Debelle has won the 2009 Mercury Prize for her album ‘Speech Therapy’. Hard to ignore the collective sense of “Uh?” that futted out across the Twittersphere in the immediate aftermath – but it’s an undeniably warm and likeable record, as we pointed out in our original album review back in May.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised: Speech Debelle herself said she was going to win in Metro this morning (the South London rapper also seemed to suggest that Michael Jackson had the power to cure cancer in children, but we’ll gloss over that).
She’s also the first hip-hop artist to win the Mercury since Dizzee Rascal in 2003. Respect must go to the judges for sidestepping prevailing musical trends – Debelle is hardly an industry-backed ‘buzz’ act on the level of La Roux or Florence – and picking a relative outsider, whose profile is certain to rocket on the strength of this.
Was ‘Speech Therapy’ really the strongest album on the shortlist, though?