This MOBO article was written by Ben Duncan-Duggal, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Nick Roseblade
The 2015 edition of the awards for Music Of Black Origin (The MOBOs) is probably one of the most important yet. It comes not only at an exciting time for black music (rarely is black music not progressing, to be fair) but at a time when black music is leading music. It is, in other words, an important night for music in general.
That’s because of one thing: grime. 2015 has truly been the summer that the grime revival has taken off, with hits by artists such as Stormzy and Bugzy Malone dominating the charts and journalists everywhere using grime as their defacto ‘edgy’ genre. But this does not mean that the show will be a triumph. Recently the awards show has been criticised heavily for becoming too commercial and not reflective of the ‘best’ music (whatever that is), with DJ Bigger recently stating that it is ‘veering away from its concept of rewarding music of black origin’. But if the nominations and awards do reflect this energy currently present amongst those making music then they would be doing something which no awards show has done for years.
MOBO Best Song (In association with First Direct)
Mark Ronson Feat. Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk”
Tinie Tempah Feat. Jess Glynne “Not Letting Go”
Jme Feat. Giggs “Man Don’t Care”
Krept and Konan Feat. Jeremih “Freak Of The Week”
This will be one of the first awards announced, and one if the first indications as to whether commercial success will win the night or grime will steal the MOBOs. If either Mark Ronson or Tinie Tempah get this award it could be a long night for anybody with an interest in grime, whilst if Skepta or JME win then it will indicate just how much the MOBOs may have shifted; the three previous winners of this award are Sam Smith, Naughty Boy (for La La La, no less) and Labrinth.
The MOBOs have come under fire in previous for either not doing enough to acknowledge other cultures’ influence on the music awarded, or not giving enough awards to artists are ‘really’ creating black music. It’s two ways of saying the same thing, but both parties will be unhappy if this award goes to the admittedly brilliant In Colour by Jamie XX, which contains influences more diverse than London.
Prediction: The Long Way Home
MOBO Best Female Act
Lianne La Havas
This is probably one of the diverse set of nominations in the 2015 MOBOs, from the commercial pop/soul of Glynne and Eyre to the minimalist croonings of FKA Twigs to the unapologetic, pure grime of Little Simz. It’s such a diverse range of artists that it feels almost bizarre to be judging them against each other, so whoever wins this will probably be looking to take home other awards as well.
Prediction: FKA Twigs
MOBO Best Male Act
Krept and Konan
Mark Ronson sticks out like a sore thumb here, and once again it feels a bit weird to be judging him on the same page as four other artists who are aiming to achieve very different things with their music. Coming early in the event, this will be a similar bellweather to Best Song. If by this point neither Skepta or JME are holding any awards then less people will talking about the event tomorrow than otherwise. Although they (and Stormzy) lack the emotional depth of Krept and Konan in places, Krept and Konan simply don’t have the excitement that could make the awards a huge point in the timeline of this decade.
MOBO Best Newcomer (In association with Virgin Trains)
George The Poet
With a nomination list this long, it’s easy to write off this award as anyone’s guess. That said, Bugzy Malone sticks out on the list after coming from nowhere to number 8 on the charts. The other name which sticks out is George The Poet, but it speaks volumes that that is mostly because of his appearance on the BBC Sound Of 2015 list back in January.
Prediction: Bugzy Malone
MOBO Best Grime Act (In association with BBC Radio 1Xtra)
An incredibly exciting award. All of the artists save for Lethal Bizzle are still fairly new (at least in the commercial world), although Stormzy won it this year. The strength of the genre is clearly deep – whoever wins this award will be adding it to commercial and critical success this year.
MOBO Best International Album
Drake – If You’re Reading This Its Too Late
Cole – 2014 Forest Hill Drive
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
Dr. Dre – Compton: A Soundtrack By Dr. Dre
The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness
D’Angelo and The Vanguard – Black Messiah
Jazmine Sullivan – Reality Show
The Internet – Ego Death
Tyrese – Black Rose
A$AP Rocky – At.Long.Last.ASAP
There’s only one thing we can say for certain for this award – whoever wins it won’t be there to pick it up. That aside, Kendrick Lamar is a strong shout for this record – his second effort has taken him out of the rap genre and made him a music star, full stop. His only real competition is Compton, Dr Dre’s first album in over a decade, which was well received both critically and commercially.
Prediction: Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
MOBO Best Hip Hop Act
Krept and Konan
The strong commercial showing from Krept and Konan makes them a likely winner of this category, although that’s not to say they’re the most deserving winner. Little Simz and Lady Leshurr in particular are both exciting prospects for the future, with some saying that Little Simz could redefine rap in the UK and open it up to infinite new audiences.
MOBO Best Video
Stormzy “Know Me From” (Directed by Serious Black)
FKA Twigs “Pendulum” (Directed by FKA Twigs & Paula Harrowing)
FKA Twigs “Glass & Patron” (Directed by FKA Twigs)
Rita Ora Feat. Chris Brown “Body On Me” (Directed Colin Tilley)
Lethal Bizzle Feat. Diztortion “Fester Skank” (Directed by Ludovic and Zotto)
Again, this is a diverse category, from the straight up humour of Stormzy to the post-modern wanderings of FKA Twigs and her cameramen. As an award it doesn’t tend to follow any commercial/critical success dynamic, rather simply going to whatever is objectively the best video (in the judges’ opinion). The combination of both stunning cinematography and clear narrative – with several of the other entrants going for one or the other – makes Rita Ora’s effort the most likely winner.
Prediction: Rita Ora ft. Chris Brown
MOBO Best R&B/Soul Act
Lianne La Havas
This will probably go to either Kwabs or Lianne La Havas due to both’s outstanding commercial performance. That said, Kwabs’ critical success could well edge it. The thing we do know is that Joss Stone definitely won’t win it.
MOBO Best Jazz Act
Binker and Moses
Binker and Moses should win this on both commercial and critical grounds; their groundbreaking debut album has managed to unite more traditional and contemporary (perhaps even urban) music fans. Their current home Gearbox Records is right on the cusp of the vinyl revolution and this suits their music perfectly!
Prediction: Binker and Moses
MOBO Best Gospel Act
Prediction: Leroy Johnson
Leroy Johnson’s strong fan base makes him the most likely contender here.
The awards take place on November 20th at First Direct Arena, Leeds, and will be shown on ITV 2.