For those of you who are not British, the MOBOs may be alien to you. Originating in 1996, the Music of Black Origin Awards celebrates the diverse artistry of the black community in the UK.
From Jamaican and other Caribbean immigrants of the 50s to more recent immigration mainly from Ghana and Nigeria, the black community of the UK has a far-reaching heritage to draw on for inspiration. As is to be expected, grime is heavily featured. In recent years, Stormzy, Wiley, Skepta, and Krept & Konan have all won various MOBO awards.
This year, Kano won the award for best album with his phenomenal Made in the Manor (2016). An ode to East London, Made in the Manor is a challenging, innovative album, distinguishing Kano from his competition. And the competition wasn’t easy: Skepta’s seminal album Konnichiwa (2016) was also nominated. Unfortunately, Kano was unable to attend the awards, but, in his typical easy-going fashion, he was filmed strutting through a “boring old airport” thanking everyone that helped him over “this whole journey of a year.”
Best song went to Abra Cadabra and Krept & Konan for “Robbery (Remix).” If you can get through the heavy use of Jamaican Patois in the chorus (as a little tip, “affi nyam” means “have to eat”… I think), the song becomes very catchy and easy listening. Again, the competition provided a very strong line-up – including songs from Kano and Craig David. A full list of all the nominees and winners, including Section Boyz for best hip-hop act, can be found here.
The MOBOs certainly go a long way in highlighting some of the talent in the British black community, and add a level of competition and prestige to a burgeoning scene. Several grime songs, notably from Skepta and Stormzy, mention the MOBOs as a venerated prize – a sign of accomplishment and artistic success. And, with the frequent charting of grime tracks, again, fronted mainly by Skepta and Stormzy, black music in the UK is stronger than ever. Hopefully the MOBOs can support and promote this by pulling awareness to new acts every year.
Written by George Green
Photos courtesy of MOBO