The $20,000 Polaris Music Prize has announced its so-called "long list," with a diverse set of acts including Joel Plaskett, Leonard Cohen and rapper k-os making the cut.

The prize, which is awarded to a specific album based on artistic merit, will be handed out Sept. 21. On July 7, the long list will be reduced to 10 albums.

It is the fourth year for the prize, which has included past winners like Patrick Watson (a band that also received a nomination this year and won in 2007), and Caribou last year. The winner is selected by 181 Canadian music journalists, broadcasters and bloggers.

"In just one year the long list has become another integral tool for the Polaris mission of exposing great records to Canadian music lovers. Certainly this year's list challenges the notion that quantity and quality are mutually exclusive," says Steve Jordan, the awards' founder and executive director.

Surprise nominees including the 74-year-old Cohen, who was nominated for a live album recorded in London, England. Plaskett made the cut for a triple album entitled "Three."

In the past the prize has been criticized for focusing on indie rock albums, but this year's long list included hip hop acts such as k-os, K'Naan and D-Sisive.

Other artists making the cut include indie-popsters Metric and the folky Great Lake Swimmers.