A recap of why the MOBOs are a farce


We've spoken on why the MOBO Awards are a total nonsense in the past, but it feels good to vent so let's recap. 

If you shortlist one act who is on the indie grind in the same category as an artist sponsored by a major label, then PR the arse off the awards so that every last UK daily promotes it in their pages – print or otherwise – then you open it up to the public vote, who do you honestly think will win that category?

So it comes as no surprise that Ella Eyre took home the Best Newcomer award, leaving a number of hopefuls, including the excellent and hugely credible Little Simz, empty-handed. Why is this important?

Let's go back a few months. People were up in arms when BBC 1Xtra crowned Ed Sheeran the king of its power list earlier this year. And rightly so. He doesn't represent 1Xtra or its audience. That's not to shit on the guy's chips, but collaborating with Game, doing an album with a load of grime MCs and being popular does not mean you make or represent black music. It means you are peripheral to it and, in fact, benefitting from it. But you are not it. In fact, you are part of the dilution-for-profit of a musical genre. Let's be clear, this has nothing to do with race. If Ed Sheeran was an incredible rapper or R&B singer he would have been given his due.

Here's an extreme. U2 had one of the most popular albums this year by default, thanks to Apple. They make rock & roll. Rock & roll owes its roots to blues and rhythm & blues. Should U2 also be shortlisted for the MOBOs? No, because even though there's a tenuous link to black music, they do not make it.

Again, it's not a racial issue. It's not the POBOs (People Of Black Origin Awards). It comes down to the music. But Ella Eyre, like a long list of acts who have signed record deals, doesn't make black music. She sung on Rudimental's pop & bass hit and makes music for Middle England. There's nothing wrong with that. If she doesn't, someone else will. More power to Ella Eyre and those seeking a career in music by selling mp3s and gig tickets to the masses. But can we honestly say, with complete conviction, that she makes black music?

As a commercial venture, the MOBOs need mass appeal to exist (their main sponsor HTC wouldn't put its name to them otherwise). And in doing so, they undermine those very artists they're supposed to promote.

British black music needs a successor to the MOBOs. They serve no one's interests but their own.


As an addendum: the best thing to come out of the whole sorry affair was Skepta winning Best Video for That's Not Me, one of a small handful of genuine grime anthems released this year.




At least someone on the judging panel had the foresight to put it forward. It took £80 to make and looks like it cost a lot less. But radio-listening Middle England likely couldn't tell you who Scorcher or FKA Twigs are, let alone what their videos look like, which made it all the more easy for the people to get behind Skepta's budget vid and have him win the vote.