Ghetts says he “manifested” his Mercury Prize nomination 18 years ago when fellow grime star Dizzee Rascal claimed the prestigious award.
The London rapper’s third album, Conflict Of Interest, features on the shortlist alongside music by singer Arlo Parks, indie band Wolf Alice, jazz saxophonist Nubya Garcia and soul singer Celeste.
Speaking at the launch of the nominations, Ghetts, 36, told the PA news agency: “It’s crazy. I feel like I manifested this 18 years ago when I saw Dizzee Rascal win with Boy In Da Corner.”
— Mercury Prize (@MercuryPrize) July 22, 2021
That record, which includes the songs Fix Up, Look Sharp and Jus’ A Rascal, was one of the most acclaimed of 2003, and went on to win the Mercury Prize, bringing grime music its first national exposure as a genre.
Ghetts, real name Justin Clarke, told PA he had not yet called his mother to tell her the news.
He said: “I have not looked at the shortlist yet. I came out of my cab and walked in. I will be honest.
“I didn’t even get to ring my mum or anything. I need to ring her before she finds out this way.”
He also credited the success of Conflict Of Interest with his “totally fearless” approach to the recording process.
Asked about feeling creatively free, he said: “I always do but with this one I was even more fearless because I always say to people, people talk about conforming but they only talk about conforming to the mainstream.
“But you can also conform to the underground and your core fan base. You can get used to something and also be fearful and you think, ‘This is a bit different, I don’t want to put this out because that is not what they are used to’. That is also conforming.
“So with me on this one it was more like I am going to be totally fearless.
“There doesn’t need to be a hook. If it sounds like it is right without a hook, it is right without a hook.
“There are no rules. There are no rules at all. So that’s how we entered making Conflict Of Interest.”
The awards ceremony will take place on September 9 at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith.