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Skepta beats David Bowie, Radiohead for Mercury Prize

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Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images; Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images; Frank Hoensch/Redferns

Skepta was announced Thursday as the winner of the annual Mercury Prize, beating out critical favorites David Bowie and Radiohead.

The grime music star, whose winning album Konnichiwa covered topics including police harassment and British politics, joins previous recipients including James Blake, Alt-J, and Arctic Monkeys.

The Hyundai-sponsored association revealed the winner at the Hammersmith Apollo theater in London and shared the news via Twitter Thursday, including a clip from a music video from Skepta’s winning album. 

“I’m just so thankful,” said Skepta in an interview with BBC Music after his win. “I’ve been trying to do this music stuff and work it out for so long.” The artist will also receive £25,000, which he promised to use to help the disadvantaged.

The nominees for the award were announced in August, pulling from critical choice for the best album from the United Kingdom and Ireland. Among the nominees were David Bowie for his posthumous album Blackstar; Radiohead, scoring their fifth nomination for A Moon Shaped Pool; and Natasha Khan’s Bat For Lashes.

Judge Jarvis Cocker of the competition shared the jury’s though process behind choosing the grime star over Bowie. “We, as a jury, decided that if Bowie was looking down on the Hammersmith Apollo tonight, he would want the 2016 Hyundai Mercury Music Prize to go to Skepta,” said Cocker in the same interview, noting Skepta’s push for groundbreaking music.

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