Mercury Prize 2014: Young Fathers – hip-hop trio win coveted award

Singer-songwriter FKA Twigs had been heavily tipped to win

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The Independent Culture

Alternative hip-hop band Young Fathers have won the Mercury Prize for Best Album.

The Edinburgh-based trio of Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and “G” Hastings were presented with the award for their first album, Dead, which features the singles “Low” and “Get Up”.

In a brief acceptance speech, Massaquoi said simply: "Thank you, we love you, we love you all." The band had been 14-1 outsiders with win the prize.

“We’ll take it in our stride,” said band member G Hastings afterwards. “We always wanted to make something bigger than the city we were living in.”

They received a bronze statue along with £20,000 at the Roundhouse in Camden, north London.

Young Fathers earned a reputation for blending music from their diverse backgrounds – Massaquoi is originally from Liberia, Bankole has Nigerian parents, and Hastings is from Edinburgh.

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The cover art for Dead by Young Fathers

The result was something of a surprise with singer-songwriter FKA Twigs, a 26-year-old from south London, having been heavily tipped to win. Kate Tempest, a rapper, poet and novelist, and soul group Jungle were among the other favourites.

Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw hosted the ceremony, which featured performances from each of the 12 nominated artists. Blur and Gorillaz alumnus Damon Albarn captivated the audience with a song from his nominated album, Everyday Robots.

When virtual band Gorillaz were nominated for the prize in 2001, Albarn requested that the debut album be withdrawn from the list, saying that winning the prize would be “like carrying a dead albatross round your neck for eternity”.

This year Albarn was nominated for his solo album.

John Kennedy, a Mercury Prize judge, said: “The aim of the Mercury Prize is to try and highlight albums that might have been slightly overlooked. The winner has to reflect a particular year in music but also potentially to have created a classic piece of work that can stand the test of time.”

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