Mercury winners Young Fathers earned more from £20,000 prize than album sales

The band's winning record Dead sold fewer copies than any other nominee this year

Matilda Battersby
Thursday 30 October 2014 12:06
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Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize

The Mercury Prize is feted for putting a spotlight on emerging artists. But last night's winners, Young Fathers, are as yet so obscure that they've made more money from the £20,000 prize than they have from sales of the album that won it for them.

The Edinburgh-based hip hop trio beat favourite FKA Twigs to take the prize for album of the year for Dead.

But as of yesterday the act had sold a mere 2,368 copies of Dead - making it one of the most under exposed albums ever to be nominated, let alone win.

Since Young Fathers were nominated for the Mercury prize in September they have only sold an additional 561 copies of the record - the fewest extra sales of any act nominated for this year's prize.

This is in contrast to others on the 12-strong shortlist, some of whom have seen exponential boosts in sales following the publicity. FKA Twigs saw her total sales increase by 83 per cent; while poet and rapper Kate Tempest enjoyed a 124 per cent sales boost.

The hip hop act - who hail from Liberia, Nigeria and Edinburgh - were surprise victors last night, costing bookmakers a hefty sum. They beat acts including hot favourite FKA Twigs and Damon Albarn and had been 14-1 with bookmaker William Hill, although with some firms they were placed at 25-1.

Dead is priced at £5.99 on iTunes and the CD is just under £8 with many online UK retailers. Their win is expected to help sales rocket.

In a brief acceptance speech at the Roundhouse in London last night, the group's Alloysious Massaquoi said simply: "Thank you, we love you, we love you all."

Simon Frith, who chaired the judging panel, said of the winners: "Young Fathers have a unique take on urban British music, brimming with ideas - forceful, unexpected and moving."

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The act, formed in 2008, have clocked up appearances at numerous festivals and have been described as a "psychedelic hip hop boy band".

Their album creates a wall of sound with heavy bass synths and pounding rhythms, topped by rap, soulful vocals and chanting.

At a press conference after their win, the taciturn trio had to be asked to smile by photographers and still continued to look stony-faced.

Massaquoi - who is joined in the band by Kayus Bankole and G Hastings - said of their music: "We go out and do what we do."

The band said they were pleased the exposure would help them to bring their work to a wider audience.

They follow in the footsteps of recent winners such as James Blake and Alt-J, as well as other past victors including Pulp, Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand.

Additional reporting by PA

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