Now, we may not have been right in our prediction, but boy are we pleased that Speech Debelle was selected to win this year’s Mercury Music Prize for her superb debut album, Speech Therapy. PM was at the launch of the album in Madame Jojo’s earlier in the year (thanks for the beer tokens, Big Dada records) and even as early as that it was clear that the record was unique at its inception.
You can read PM’s review of the album here and here, and our initial (brief) predictions here. There will now, no doubt, be countless observations of how, in actual fact, this isn’t so challenging as an album and therefore not worthy of such a win. It’s not supposed to be challenging, it’s supposed to be good – and it is. You’d do well to find someone who tells their stories so sensitively and, more to the point, who quietly opposes the conventional notions of females in hip-hop. Her vulnerabilities, masked by bald cheek, are at the fore and make for a deeply satisfying album that, musically, is tremendous fun as well. So, anyone with reactionary opinions that decry the record as merely being accessible hip-hop must consider exactly why that might be a good or a bad thing, and re-apply said opinion.
Juice Aleem for next year’s prize.