Last night the MOBOs returned to Leeds for its 22nd annual awards show, presented by Maya Jama and Marvin Humes, in celebration of another incredible year for British black music.
Predictably, Stormzy enjoyed a healthy haul in the wake of his chart-topping debut album ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’. After a surprise live appearance alongside Krept & Konan for ‘Ask Flipz’, the South Londoner took home three of a possible five awards: best male artist, best grime act (he promised to keep shelling no matter how successful he gets in the mainstream) and the prestigious best album - presented by Fatman Scoop, who took the time to promote his forthcoming single with Sean Paul before handing over the trophy.
Ahead of the awards, Jeremy Corbyn shared a message for the MOBOs particularly focussed on the grime category. In a short video upload the Labour leader stated: “It’s more important than ever that we celebrate black excellence and recognise the achievements of black communities. This year grime artists played a huge part in setting the agenda for British music and in the General Election, your contribution helped secure the highest youth turnout in a quarter of a century, showing the positive impact grime has on our society.”
It wasn’t a clean sweep for Big Mike though, with strong competition coming from acts like J Hus who took best song for his infectious hit ‘Did You See’, and Birmingham rapper MIST who took best video with his incredible ‘Hot Property’ video - both of whom were unfortunately absent from the show. Also unable to collect their awards in person where Dave who took best newcomer and Giggs who took best hip-hop against some strong contenders.
Stefflon Don continued to make her mark on the scene, punctuating a huge year with a performance of her breakthrough hit ‘Hurtin Me’ - backed by her dons, naturally - and by taking home the award for best female.
While she didn’t take home an award, Ray BLK delivered the strongest performance of the night, bringing South London to the First Direct Arena for a memorable rendition of ‘My Hood’, strolling through sets that depicted her hair salon, a local park and her bedroom - her vocals immersing the entire arena into her world.
A long time supporter of the MOBOs, Idris Elba was honoured with their ‘Paving The Way’ award for his achievements in the arts and contribution to British culture. In his acceptance speech he recalled a time in which “there was no British music that was killing the game the way it’s killing now.” A paving stone will be embedded in Hackney, where he grew up, to commemorate the award.
Looking beyond the UK, Nigerian star WizKid took home best international act, despite competition from North American heavyweights like Drake, Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar, while Davido won best African act and celebrated with a performance of his hit single ‘If’. It was also revealed that Damian Marley won best reggae act.
Earlier in the week, at the annual Pre-MOBO Awards Show in Canary Wharf, Craig David received his sixth MOBO for best R&B/soul act, while best jazz was awarded to Moses Boyd and Volley Morgan and New-Ye took best gospel act.
Bringing a strong close the night, Bronx rapper, reality TV personality and social media star Cardi B set the arena ablaze with a performance of ‘Bodak Yellow’. The track made headlines earlier this year when it topped the US Billboard charts and Cardi became the first female rapper to get a solo number one since Lauryn Hill in 1998. She closed by sharing her appreciation for the support the track has received in the UK, declaring that it’s the American dream to be loved by people all over the world.
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Words: Grant Brydon
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