Haviah Mighty has won the 2019 Polaris Music Prize for her album 13th Floor.
The project, the first Polaris awarded to a female hip-hop and rap artist, was selected by an 11-member jury as the Canadian album of the year based on its artistic merit.
Mighty’s first full-length solo album 13th Floor reflects on her experience as a woman of colour growing up in Canada, addressing the hurdles it presented, but also the positive inspiration her family provided. It features guest appearances by other rising Canadian rap artists, including Clairmont the Second, Sean Leon and her older sister Omega.
Mighty said the title was inspired by the concept of the 13th floor being a space North American culture pretends doesn’t exist. The album draws a parallel between the 13th floor and marginalized people and communities, whose experiences she says often go unacknowledged.
She accepted the Polaris Prize saying that it’s one of the few accolades she’s received from years of making music, but she was grateful that her album resonated with the jury.
“My truth, how important it is, and how dismissed it often is, I don’t care about that,” the Brampton, Ont.-raised artist said while accepting the award.
“I’ve had the same thoughts and the same sentiments since high school, and every time it was ‘not the time,’ and it ‘wasn’t the place,’ and here at the Polaris 2019 it is the time and the place.”
Mighty has been releasing music for a decade as an independent artist, and is also a member of all-female Toronto hip-hop act The Sorority.
The Polaris Prize is considered one of the country’s most prestigious music awards. Former winners include Jeremy Dutcher, Arcade Fire, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Kaytranada.
The winner receives a $50,000 cash prize and heightened global awareness for their album.