You might have just heard that Young Fathers have won this year’s Mercury Music Prize for their album Dead. The band’s history requires a little explanation as they’ve been making music for the past ten years but rather than me type away, you can click this link for a short history of the band and a pre-Mercury interview conducted in a cafe on Leith Walk. Or to sum them up, as they say themselves on their website:
‘This is known: Young Fathers are three young men from Edinburgh and Liberia and Nigeria, all at the same time. Their journey has taken them through various incarnations and styles but they are still only in their mid-twenties. And… and this is important: they’ve chosen to kill the past – their own past, even – to make their own future.’
That’s not a bad outlook at all.
You should also be aware that they won the Scottish Album of the Year Award earlier this year for their last album, Tape 2. Tape 2 wasn’t my choice but I don’t think anyone who voted really could disagree and there weren’t any serious grumblings afterwards. But awards are funny things and you can’t please everyone. Saying that, I think Dead deserved to win the Mercury Music Prize. But why?
…Because IT IS INTENSE.
This song and video is genuinely terrifying:
We played some of Dead on the VoxBox Vinyl Show this year (The Show is returning soon). It’s a daaaark album in places. Holy sheezus. It’s a wide eyed, claustrophobic, aggressive and moody record. But what do you really expect with a record called DEAD? The music they make has been called hip-hop but I don’t know if it is. It feels more like metal or hardcore with Gil Scott-Heron poetry thrown in. I do know they don’t like to be pigeon holed and they might some day kick me in the nuts for saying this but if you wanted me to come up with a genre, for this Hallowe’en week, I’d call it Dark Soul.
The great thing is that a load of people will listen to this album on the back of the win and maybe hold it up as art for a while. A dark sermon.
I sense that the Young Fathers don’t feel much affinity for places, but I’d hope the Mercury Music Prize win will ignite some outside interest in the compact Edinburgh music scene, in particular and most obviously, that The Young Fathers’ good friend LAWHolt gets signed up by an ambitious and forward thinking label and the chance to put an album out soon.
And although VoxBox stock the Young Fathers releases, I had nothing at all to do with their recent success and have never met them, I’m nevertheless very proud of their achievement.
Young Fathers are from Edinburgh. But in reality they are an international band that make music that hits you like a dark basement crack on the head that reminds you that you must pay attention: Something special has arrived.