by Marcus Leach
The Mercury Prize is one of the most coveted awards in the music industry, with a long-list of big name winners. It came as something of a surprise then when Edinburgh-based hip-hop trio Young Fathers were crown the 2014 winners.
Their record, Dead, beat 11 other albums from acts including Damon Albarn, Bombay Bicycle Club and bookmakers' favourite, FKA Twigs. The band, described as a 'Liberian/Nigerian/Scottish psychedelic hip-hop electro boy band' won the £20,000 prize despite only selling 2,386 records.
So who are they exactly, and why are they so highly rated? They first formed in 2008 having meet at an under-16s hip-hop night in Edinburgh and site various influences in their music, including hip hop, soul, folk, indie, trip hop and African music.
"The great thing about Young Fathers is that they are such a unique band that could really only come out of Britain and could really only come our right now," John Kennedy, the highly regarded Xfm radio DJ and judge for the award, said.
"One of things that distinguished them from other bands on the list was that ability to create music that is so rich and diverse in terms of its references, but be really catchy but aggressive at the same time. They really draw you into their world. It’s a really powerful performance, and it’s quite intriguing how they manage to be punk, angry, aggressive yet soulful and full of rich, hip-hop history. This is a different British voice.
"I think it’s crazy how few albums they’ve sold, because they are one of the most unique groups around at the moment, and it’s not as if the songs aren’t catchy. They just need to be heard, and if this helps them be heard, then it’s a great decision."
As for the band themselves, they accepted the award with minimal fuss. In a brief acceptance speech, the band's Alloysious Massaquoi said simply: "Thank you, we love you, we love you all."
"We'll take it in our stride," said band member Graham 'G' Hastings. "We always wanted to make something bigger than the city we were living in."