Stabbed MC competes with rock giants for Mercury prize

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The Independent Online

Dizzee Rascal, the London musician who was stabbed in Cyprus two weeks ago, was nominated yesterday for the Mercury Music Prize.

The 18-year-oldgarage MC, who was dragged from a scooter in the resort of Ayia Napa and repeatedly knifed, was among 12 artists short-listed.

Others included the fiddle player Eliza Carthy - the daughter of folk legends Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy - and Soweto Kinch, the Birmingham-based and Oxford University-educated saxophonist.

The two giants of modern British music, Radiohead and Coldplay, were also nominated. William Hill, the bookmakers, declared the two bands joint 4-1 favourites to win.

But Simon Frith, chairman of the Mercury judges, said: "They [bookmakers] understand their business and that the casual punters are most likely to vote for the people they have heard of. If you are a clever watcher of the Mercury Music Prize you would think twice and look at some of the others."

After the favourites, the most fancied nominations with the bookies are Dizzee Rascal, the quirky Suffolk rock band The Darkness, and the California-influenced Dubliners The Thrills, whose album So Much for the City was released last month and went to No 4 in the UK and No 1 in Ireland.

All three are among eight acts nominated for their debut albums, the highest number of short-listed debutants since the prize began in 1992.

The other nominated artists are London band Athlete, rap and R&B outfit Floetry, soul singer Terri Walker, Tricky's former singer and partner Martina Topley-Bird and duo Lemon Jelly.

Dizzee Rascal, who has now recovered from the stabbing, released his album Boy in Da Corner this month.

Having fast established a reputation on the underground dance scene, he has been hyped by sections of the style press for months and has attracted jealousy from rivals for his rapid rise to fame.

Mr Frith said: "I have no idea if technically he is a good musician but there's no one else that can make sounds like he does." He said Dizzee Rascal, real name Dylan Mills, could "very loosely" be described as a rapper, because he "is talking about his own experiences". But he said it was the music that was "quite remarkable". "You could strip away the voice and just listen to the backing tracks," he said. "As far as I can tell, he does it all himself."

Mr Frith said he was surprised that there were no singer-songwriters on this year's Mercury short-list.

He was not worried at the prospect of Radiohead or Coldplay beating less well-known artists to the prize. "It's not supposed to just be about new artists," he said. "Because we are the only prize that tends to listen to things for what they sound like rather than for reputation, we tend to come up with new acts. But it's about good records."

Radiohead were previously nominated for their OK Computer and Amnesiac albums and Coldplay were short-listed for Parachutes. But neither band has won the prize, which was lifted last year by Ms Dynamite for A Little Deeper.

The shortlist was selected from an total entry of 180 albums by British and Irish artists. The winner will be announced at a show in London on 9 September.

THE NOMINATED ALBUMS

'Hail to the Thief': Radiohead

Recorded in Los Angeles, Radiohead's sixth album, the follow-up to 2001's 'Amnesiac', had a mixed response on release but went on to find success in the charts.Odds: 4-1

'Boy in Da Corner': Dizzee Rascal

The solo album by 18-year-old Dylan Mills from east London was "an astonishingly passionate debut: rough, raw and compelling", the judges said. Odds 6-1

'So Much for the City': The Thrills

The sound of west coast America via a five-piece band from Dublin. Their Los Angeles-recorded album was "a pristine debut of melodic gems", the judges said. Odds 6-1

'Conversations with the Unseen': Soweto Kinch

Kinch first played saxophone at nine and went on to work with with bands including Jazz Jamaica. Now 25, the Oxford graduate's debut album was released in April.Odds: 10-1

'Floetic': Floetry

Singer Marsha Ambrosius and rapper Natalie Stewart were overlooked in Britain but won three US Grammy award nominations. Their first album was "crackling with confidence", judges said. Odds 10-1

'Permission to Land': The Darkness

Brothers Justin and Dan Hawkins formed their unreconstructed rock band with friends three years ago. Their debut album did well, reaching number two in the charts. Odds: 6-1

'A Rush of Blood to the Head': Coldplay

The band's second album has already gone five times platinum in the UK. The Mercury judges described the record as "a thrilling collection of timeless and beautiful songs". Odds: 6-1

'Quixotic': Martina Topley-Bird

The first solo album by the 27-year-old who sang with Tricky comprises" unexpected and bewitching songs", say the judges. "A sensuous and extraordinary voice." Odds 12-1

'Anglicana': Eliza Carthy

Probably the boldest of the 12 selections, the 26-year-old singer and fiddle player is well-established on the folk music scene. Her album was billed as "an expression of Englishness in song". Odds 12-1

'Vehicles and Animals': Athlete

From Deptford, south London, Athlete's debut was recorded at their local studio. "A distinctive and refreshing debut", the panel said. Odds 8-1

'Untitled': Terri Walker

Terri Walker, signed to Def Jam spin-off label, Def Soul, uses her classical training on the Garage scene. The panel acclaimed "a flawless showcase for a powerful new voice in UK soul". Odds 8-1

'Lost Horizons': Lemon Jelly

The second album from Nick Franglen and Fred Deakin, a collection of EPs called Lemonjelly.ky. "Lemon Jelly draw you into their strange, blissed-out and absorbing musical world," the judges said. Odds 12-1

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