By Adenike Adenitire
The MOBO Awards are back this weekend. The ceremony returns for its first full event since 2017.
MOBOs held a livestream last year because Covid prevented a live event, but it had been on hiatus for the previous two years.
The celebration of black music, encompassing everything from Hip Hop, Soul, Reggae, R&B, Grime, Afrobeat, Jazz and Gospel, was founded almost 25 years ago by Kanya King CBE, who received The Strat at the Music Week Awards.
This year’s ceremony on Sunday 5 December will be broadcast live from the Building Society Arena in Coventry on YouTube, followed by a behind-the-scenes BBC One special with DJ Target on Wednesday 8 December.
The ceremony will include performances by Ghetts, Tems, NSG, Bree Runway and Pa Salieu from Coventry. Hosting duties this year will be hosted by Little Mix star Leigh-Ann Pinnock and actress Munya Chawawa.
Music week caught up with MOBO Organization CEO Kanya King on the eve of the show to discuss what it feels like to finally relive, from adding new categories to the awards, from the evolution of black music to the over the years and the central role of MOBO in the defense of music and culture. …
This is the first in-person event since 2017 – what have been the challenges?
âYes, I guess the challenges are in keeping control of everything from a health standpoint by trying to bring everyone together, with the obvious changing guidelines. Then, also work with the resources at our disposal. We have a small team that strikes above its weight, but we have a phenomenal team of warriors coming together, and everyone is so passionate about showing the extent of black music and culture. . Other challenges are dealing with many stakeholders, dealing with everything from managers, agents, public relations, charities, suppliers, broadcasters, I mean the list is endless. Lawyers, the list goes on and on.
What has changed in the industry – especially UK rap and other black music – since the last event?
âThere’s more black frames, we’re also seeing more videographers, photographers, you know, that’s kind of a big change from what we’ve seen in the last couple of years. You also have departments that specialize in black music, so there has been a lot of change. “
How are the live broadcast and broadcast partnerships with YouTube and the BBC, respectively, moving the event forward?
âI mean, the partnership with YouTube brings the show to a bigger audience. We know young people are going online for their music and we need to bring the show to them. And the BBC really supports us. We have additional exclusive content that will be airing on the BBC, and it’s in a brand new show that is Access All Areas at the MOBO Awards, and that will be presented by DJ Target. This sort of thing has never happened before in the history of the MOBO Awards, and will feature elements like a previously unreleased performance and interviews from the awards show.
MOBO has become a cultural institution
To what extent has the industry supported the return of MOBOs?
âI think people are happy about it, you know. I think there are people out there who want to stand up for us, which is pretty encouraging to see. MOBO has become something of a cultural institution and it’s good to see this kind of constant change that makes all the difference.
In terms of programming and performers, what are you looking forward to the most that night?
âWhen we announced this year’s hosts, Leigh-Ann Pinnock and Munya Chawawa, it was amazing to see the response, not only through social media, but also from the public and many influencers around the world. music and beyond. They all said it was amazing having them both and people are so excited about them. When we interviewed Leigh-Ann, she couldn’t wait to be back on stage to interact with the audience live, and she mentioned how honored she was to receive this opportunity. Leigh-Ann and Munya both spoke about watching the MOBO Awards grow and being inspired by some of the artists who have graced the stage.
âPlus we obviously have a lot of different performers. I love that they want to make it a great cultural moment. So whether it’s Ghetts, Pa Salieu from Coventry, Tems, NSG or Bree Runway – all of them have gone out of their way to make this a huge moment, so we look forward to a show that people will remember for years to come. “
Dave is one of the most nominated artists this year. How do you see its impact?
âHe won our Best Newcomer award in 2017, so we’re very proud of his progression and musical achievements since then. The success of his latest album also testifies to this. He is considered a great role model for many emerging artists. It’s amazing when we see a lot of newcomers over the years and what they’ve accomplished. For many artists, MOBOs were their first major mainstream platform and they often talk about the impact it has had on their careers.
Afrobeats is huge right now, how excited are you to have Wizkid, Tems and Burna Boy nominated?
âAfrican artists have been performing on the mobile scene from the start, from Ladysmith Black Mambazo with Des’ree to Youssou N’Dour, who was possibly the first recipient of the African Artist Award. So, we stood up for African music and culture and saw artists like Wizkid, Davido, D’Banj, Tiwa Savage and many more achieve phenomenal success. It’s gratifying to be able to see the huge success they’ve had, and whether it’s winning a MOBO award, performing on stage or getting nominations for the MOBO awards, we want to continue to recognize the phenomenal impact that the continent continues to have, not just in music, but in society at large.
There is also a new award for the Best Drill Act. What was the decision to introduce it?
âWe want to reflect the culture of young people in society, you know it’s a flourishing musical genre. And we also want artists to use our platform to use their creativity. You know, for us, it’s about showing how we can present moments of excellence, however we may, and use the platform to inspire future generations, celebrate and recognize culture. , and uphold what these genres have become in recent years. “
Where do you think the genre is now, after Tion Wayne and Russ Millions’ Body, which this year became the first exercise song to go to # 1?
âThe cultural impact is enormous. We have seen the progress and have been able to recognize this artistic excellence and celebrate the achievements of the talent. We believe that music and the arts can be a platform for a better life. Over the years we have seen many artists talking about seeing other artists nominated, winning awards or performing, and they too thought they could be the star of their own journey. We want to use our platform to inspire, encourage, celebrate, reward and showcase all the variety and diverse genres, especially those that have been under-represented.
Little Simz has had its best year, is it important that MOBO support it?
âYeah, it’s great to see how well ranked she is in the nominations. MOBO was a fan from the start and played very early on in our show with Candi Staton. Today she is at the forefront of the British hip-hop scene and carries the flag abroad. It’s great to see how much success she is enjoying now.
Is it possible to add other categories in the future?
âYes, we’ve had a lot of conversations about it. Next year is the 25th anniversary of the MOBO Awards, so we have a number of activities that we will start to feature and announce. So watch this space.
Subscribers can click here for our Strat Award interview with Kanya King.