Every year we look forward to the time where we sit down in front of the TV on a winters evening and switch the channel to the MOBOs. We look forward to a time where our culture is celebrated across the nation, celebrating excellence in our music across all genres. Established in 1996 by Kanya King as a platform that recognises and celebrates urban music; the MOBOs has played a role in the success of many artists including Stormzy, Ms Dynamite, Krept & Konan & many more.
Being one of the most influential & prestigious award ceremonies that has ever come out of the UK, the MOBOs continues its legacy by recognising & honouring talent across the UK & beyond. As the MOBOs heads up north this year to grace the city of Leeds for the 2nd time since its establishment, music makers prepare to be awarded for their achievements on the 29th November.
But before we get into the juicy details about about the categories this year let’s talk about what it means to be nominated for a MOBO. Being nominated for a MOBO is a dream come true for any artist that is passionate about their craft as the nomination usually deems them credible. With humble beginnings the MOBOs has given the opportunity & paved the way for many artists who long for recognition and therefore a desired break in the industry. The recognition in the nomination is, in itself an achievement so being crowned as a winner for your category will none the less be a driving factor in one's success.
We have experienced what winning a MOBO feels like when Stormzy; who won his first MOBO in 2014 for the Best Grime Act was left on the stage speechless or last year when Abra Cadabra was lost for words as he took home the Best Song Award for 'Robbery'. Stormzy has since then become a significant personality in the UK and has never looked back; winning numerous awards including the GQ Best Solo Artist.
Over the years we have seen the UK music scene grow stronger and stronger; year on year and this has been evident in the presence of UK artists in each category. The MOBOs has gone from an award ceremony celebrating urban talent with a lot of focus on talent from around the world to being spoilt for choice of UK talent.
Taking fresh faces and making them familiar is something that the MOBOs has taken pride in and every year we see new artists arrive on the scene but before they make themselves at home we need to see who has earned their stay so in that case we have the Best Newcomer award. Over the years we have seen the likes of So Solid Crew, Ms Dynamite & Section Boyz take this award home in style but contending for the title this year includes Stefflon Don, Not3s, Dave, Yxng Bane, Mabel & more. It has been a good year for UK artists where we have seen a lot of artists develop in their craft and reach levels that they themselves has almost seen as impossible. Whoever will be crowned as the Best Newcomer well surely experience a drastic uplift in their career from that day on.
Also being chosen by the fans is the award for the Best Grime Act which we saw awarded to Chip in last years ceremony. Before that we saw Stormzy take the first of what was to be many awards to come as he won the award for two consecutive years. Stormzy and Chip continue to stay relevant in the scene and will be joined in this years category by Skepta, AJ Tracey, P Money & Wiley. The Best R&B/Soul act category is an interesting one as R&B/Soul is a genre that is very under represented in the UK however we have seen some very special talent over the last couple of years such as Mercury Prize 2017 winner, Sampha and South London singer Ray BLK who are present in this years category.
In 2002 Ja Rule proudly took the Best Hip Hop Act award back to New York and was over the years followed by Kanye West, Krept & Konan & most recently Section Boyz. This years contenders for the award include Giggs, Little Simz, Nines & more. A number of UK artists have started to gain recognition from international artists where some have been cosigned in the process; being revealed to a wider audience. Examples include nominee Giggs who appeared on two tracks on Drake's most recent project More Life. As much as this is very life changing some argue if we should rely on artists from the US or Canada to determine our success.
Finally the last category in this section is the Best International Act. This award recognises talent overseas and has previously gone into the hands of legends such as Puff Daddy, The Fugees, Drake, Rhianna, Jay-Z & many more. However this time round we’ll see a whole new breed of artists come through to claim this award such as Cardi B, Migos, Travis Scott, DJ Khaled, Sza, Wiz Kid, Solange Knowles & Kendrick Lemar.
The remaining categories will be judged by a specialist panel and these categories include; Best Reggae Act, Best African Act, Best Gospel Act, Best Jazz Act, Best Video, Best Song, Best Album, Best Female Act and Best Male Act. With an incredible year Stormzy leads this years awards as he is nominated in 5 categories, followed by Stratford rapper; J Hus who has landed himself in 4 after releasing his debut studio album 'Common Sense'. There are a lot of interesting candidates and tough contenders in this years nominations however make sure you look out for our predictions blog post where we will discuss who we think will win in each category.
Finally, besides acceptance speeches the most entertaining moments of the night are the performances. These performances are what create the iconic moments in TV that we live to remember. In the history of the MOBOs we have witnessed So Solid Crew dangling from the sky to deliver a legendary 21 second performance. R-Kelly flew the flag for the USA as he performed I believe I can Fly for the 9/11 victims in 2001, Kano literally brought the club on stage and performed Typical Me alongside Ghetts whilst Rita Ora brought out Section Boyz as a surprise guest during her performance in 2015. There is no doubt that the MOBOs produce key moments in our culture that will be talked about for years to come. Living up to performances such as this, Krept & Konan, Stefflon Don, Yxng Bane & Yungen will be creating history this year as they perform their hit singles. But the performance we’re all going to be waiting for is the woman of the moment; Cardi B - she will definitely have us on our feet Bodak Yellowing across our living rooms.
So I guess by now we will all be on the same page and eager to see what this years awards bring. Despite negative criticism over the last couple of years, the MOBOs has developed a platform that is recognised worldwide amongst the greatest and has simultaneously given the opportunity for artists who may not have necessarily been given the chance, a chance to shine. With a strong history, the 22nd annual ceremony will be one not to be missed. It may be the breaking point in someones career or we may see the performance of the year but one thing for sure is that MOBO Awards has and will always lead the way for UK Urban Music.
Make sure you follow @MOBOAwards on all major platforms to catch the hype in the lead up to the main event which will be hosted in the First Direct Arena, Leeds on the 29th November.