This Mercury Music Prize was written by Charlotte Kilmartin, a GIGsoup contributor
In relation to the 2015 nominees for the Mercury Music Prize being announced this month, we at GIGsoup have decided to look back on previous winners of the award. This year albums such as ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” by Florence and the Machine, Eska’s self-titled album and Róisín Murphy’s “Hairless Toys” are in the mix of nominees for 2015’s Mercury Prize title and all offer a real statement of intent from female artists.
However, it was back in 2002 when a young Niomi Arleen McLean-Daley (aka Ms Dynamite) glided her way to victory with her album ‘A Little Deeper’ – not only claiming the prize with her debut album, but also steamrollering through the likes of The Coral, Doves, The Streets and David Bowie who were also nominated that year.
‘A Little Deeper’ has sold 495,000 copies in the United Kingdom since its original release and features some of Ms Dynamites most popular songs, such as “Dy-Na-Mi-Tee”, “Anyway U Want It” and “Too Experienced”. The album is a mix of true R&B, reggae and an infusion of cleverly worded and, at the time, fresh hip-hop. ‘A Little Deeper’ was touted as a pioneering album for UK female artists – the US already had such luminaries as Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliot but at the time there wasn’t a huge array of female artists from this genre in the UK.
As with previous years the winner came as somewhat of a surprise. While there is no denying the quality of the LP it was in the same pot as a number of now considered ‘Classic Albums’. Certainly most had their money on Doves ‘The Last Broadcast’ or The Streets radio friendly ‘Original Pirate Material’. However, the mixture of genres and genuine likability of ‘A Little Deeper’ seemed to sway the judges votes in a similar way to the M People victory in 1994.
While Ms Dynamite has never managed to re-capture the overwhelming success of the 2002 release she has gone on to release further material (2005’s Judgement Days is certainly worth a listen) and featured at Live 8 alongside such legends as Madonna, Pink Floyd and Paul McCartney.
After PJ Harvey’s success in 2001 and Ms Dynamite’s in 2002 another solo female artist wouldn’t win the Mercury Prize again for 7 years.