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Rapper Rascal wins Mercury Prize

(VIP NEWS) — Underground urban artist Dizzee Rascal has become the first rapper to win the prestigious Mercury Music Prize.

Rascal, 19, whose style straddles hip hop and UK garage, beat favourites The Darkness and other high-profile rock bands like Coldplay and Radiohead.

Albums by 12 UK and Irish acts were shortlisted for the award at the 12th annual ceremony in London.

Rascal, who won for his debut Boy in Da Corner, said he had not been expecting to win but was happy to be recognised.

He said acknowledgement was important because "I come from nothing – I come from the underground, pirate radio stations, I come from the ground, man."

Receiving his award from last year's winner Ms Dynamite, he said: "I want to thank God, my mum and my family and everyone in the underground."

The east London MC added: "Remember to support British talent – because it is there."

Rascal, real name Dylan Mills, has become one of the most critically acclaimed artists of 2003, and has begun to break into the mainstream with two top 40 singles.

He has been praised for his stark urban lyrics and experimental beats but also hit the headlines after being stabbed in the clubbing resort of Ayia Napa, Cyprus, in July.

The Mercury Prize reflects the best of British music and has become synonymous with new music in the UK.

More than two-thirds of the winners of the prize have been for debut albums.

The contest is open to UK and Irish acts who have released an album during the 12 months from June last year.

Judges deciding the winner at London's Grosvenor House hotel include music journalists, DJs, an academic and a composer.

The award is seen as a more credible alternative to the higher-profile Brits because of its reputation for backing non-established acts across many genres.

It is often accused of tokenism for including artists in categories such as jazz, classical and folk – a charge rejected by the judges.