MOBO founder Kanya King declared last that “urban music is the new pop music” and she wasn’t wrong as the 15th year of the awards graced the Echo arena, Liverpool. The first year that the awards ventured out of the country’s capital was a significant one for the organization though unfortunately did not do enough to appease the critics.
Predictable winners such as Gyptian’s best reggae act (more-or-less entirely based on his radio-friendly ‘Hold yuh’, despite the other nominees’ more authentic and diverse output) and Eminem claiming best international artist, presumably for ‘Recovering’ from a ‘Relapse’ of mediocrity were rife, there were some worthy winners. Professor Green achieving ‘best hip hop/grime’ award topped off a year he couldn’t of dreamed up 18 months ago. The 26 year old from Hackney fought off tough competition from the likes of Skepta and Giggs to grab the gong perhaps as a result of his catchy singles hitting #3 and #5, so all respect is due to him. However whether he was genuinely the best artist from the hip hop and grime scene is subjective, as the award was once again a reflection of chart success, though I definitely admire his ability to make it from a battle rapper to battling his way out of a sea of screaming teenage girls.
Coca-Cola’s World Cup endorsement of Somali born Canadian K’naan undoubtedly aided his Best African accolade after the re-make of his track ‘Wavin flag’ was adapted for 20 different global regions. Three chart storming singles from Tinie Tempah led to the south Londoner grabbing 2 Mobos for best newcomer and best video for his weaker follow up to the debut single Pass Out. Tinie’s debut single however was somehow pipped to best single by N-Dubz and Mr Hudson’s ‘Playing with fire’, certainly one of the more unexpected winners of the night.
JLS were awarded best album which mystified me as their sound seems to derive more from an L.A. dance-pop studio than that of homegrown urban music producers, which I had believed this ceremony was here to recognise.
15 years in, and the Mobos is still relevant to many, but as the internet has quantatively proven who is really grabbing the attention maybe Kanya King et al should look beyond the artists with major label deals in order to keep the actual music fans interested…