London-based rapper Little Simz has been awarded the 2022 Mercury Prize, topping a list of candidates that included Harry Styles, Wet Leg and Sam Fender.
The 28-year-old performer won for “Sometimes I Feel Introvert,” her fourth album, and her second to be nominated for the prestigious honor, after “Grey Area” landed on the shortlist for the same award in 2019. Little Simz has been considered a major artist in the U.K. for years, although this album represented more of a breakthrough for her in the U.S. That may hold somewhat true in her native country, too — she recently won the best new artist award at the Brits, despite having released albums over the last seven years.
The award is given for the best British or Irish album of the year, selected by a panel of judges that includes fellow artists, DJs, journalists and music industry figures. The prize was originally set to be given out Sept. 8, a date that got postponed after the Queen’s death. The ceremony naming Little Simz took place Tuesday night at London’s Eventim Apollo.
“I want to say a thank you to my brother and close collaborator Inflo,” she was quoted by the Guardian as saying in her acceptance speech, referring to her producer. “Flo [has] known me since I was so young, he’s stuck by me, we created this album together. There was times in the studio I didn’t know if I was gonna finish this record, I was going through all the emotions … he stuck by me.”
Praise greeted the album on both sides of the Atlantic upon its arrival in 2021. It topped the BBC News “poll of polls” that combined 30 critics’ best lists for the year.
Variety cited her album as one of the year’s 10 best, writing: “Her longtime producer, Inflo, has been having a heck of a year (see his own Sault project, and several songs on Adele’s album, both represented elsewhere in these top 10s), but he’s never better at pushing sonic pleasures than he is working with the endlessly fascinating Little Simz.”
Others who were nominated this year included Styles, Wet Leg, Fender, the duo of Jessie Buckley and Bernard Butler, Kojee Radical, Yard Act, Joy Crookes, Nova Twin, Gwenno, Fergus McCreadie and Self Esteem.
Last year’s Mercury Prize winner was Arlo Parks for her album “Collapsed in Sunbeams.”
After the ceremony Tuesday, Little Simz told BBC News, “I just pray I can do what I can and contribute what I can to the landscape of music and society in whatever way, shape or form, and just try and speak for those that don’t have a voice and use my platform and my gift for the greater good.”