Could Shedding Skin win Ghostpoet the Mercury?

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It’s going to be a busy week for Ghostpoet next week.

On Thursday he starts a national tour at The Joiners in Southampton. The following night he finds out if he’s won the Mercury Prize, before resuming his tour.

According to the bookies, the hip-hop artist, real name Obaro Ejimiwe, is among the frontrunners for this year’s gong with his stunning third album Shedding Skin.

But it’s not he first time he’s been here – his debut Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam was also nominated in 2011.

‘I don’t know how that’s happened,’ he says. ‘It’s a bit weird, but really nice.

‘It’s literally a case of the tour starts, then it’s the Mercury Prize awards show, then it’s London after that – it’s weird timing, I didn’t plan this at all.’

And he adds: ‘I‘m not a big name at all, but I think this year’s a wide open field.

‘There are a number of records that could go ahead and win it. Being nominated is a great thing in itself – I get so much out of being nominated, I’m just happy to be involved in the discussion.

‘If I win it great, if not, no problem.’

The new album saw Obari take his dark, electronic-tinged work in a more guitar-based direction, but he says the title wasn’t meant to reflect any great change in musical style.

‘I guess it’s a subconscious thing choosing that particular title, It’s partly stripping away the direction I had been going, but at the same time I just felt I wanted to make a guitar record. I’ve always loved guitar music,

‘It just made sense, the components were in place for me to at least attempt it and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I don’t really see it as a complete change of style, just more concentrated in a particular direction.

‘I’ve had guitar, bass, drums on my previous two records, but I just decided I wanted to hone in on those particular elements for this record, which is something I hadn’t done before.

‘I wouldn’t say I’m moving to a band style, I just like guitar music and that resonates with me at the moment. The lyrics are really important to me. I want to make sure I don’t talk rubbish, I want to make sense. But it’s also important the music is good.

‘It’s a 50-50 thing, it’s never been the case of it’s all about the lyrics, as that’s something that’s been bandied around a bit, but that’s not how I see it, they both need each other, they co-exist in my head.’

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