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The Mobos – 18th Anniversary: Past, Present and Future

The Music Of Black Origin Awards. A Bastion and beacon not only for Black music but the black community as a whole? Or at 18 years old, an already aged dinosaur that is a relic of a constantly changing society that has long since left it behind?

The UK is a melting pot of communities from across the world and As such this country’s black communities, as they were, simply don’t exist anymore. Black has been replaced by ‘Urban’ and the creeds and ethnicities represented within that and the challenges they face mean that there is simply no room for divergence if that community is to thrive. As a consequence music that once was Black is has also been urbanised.

But does that mean the MOBOs is a spent force. The awards are for by, definition, music of black origin, not black music and therefore anyone who is a leading exponent of such an art in this country must be in with a chance of being nominated. The ethnicities of MOBO winners has become increasingly diverse and it’s no coincidence that socially our communities are also a million miles away from what they once were.

So the MOBOs are representative of the current climate. Or maybe they are simply a by product of what the industry has to offer at any given time. After all, a mechanic can only work with the tools he is given. So shouldn’t Kanya King and her fellow ‘MOBOrians’ be reaching into the vast talent pools located within these Urban communities themselves? A best newcomer act nomination is all well and good but there are those out there that do not have the resources to get themselves into a position where they are even considered for such a nomination in the first place.

But that isn’t in the job description of an awards society. I may be misinformed but I don’t hear of the Grammy, VMA or Mercury types making such a gesture. These bodies are there to give recognition to those who deserve it, not to give a helping hand to some who are therefore seen as being shown favouritism by their peers. If these artists want that recognition then it is up to them to earn it. The MOBOs is not just an awards show, it is an inspirational tool that can stir many into making that final push to reach their goals. These days new artists are breaking through all the time and the outlets for them are plentiful and relatively cheap (and in some cases free) to access. Why should the MOBOs provide what is already available?

Because this is not just a case of awarding success. There are wider implications that should be considered. This is a way to show off the best of what the UK has to offer. Not just musical talents but by extension, those that derive from the artists success. Showcasing such talents means recognition the world over. Which in turn means more money invested in the artists and more money spent by the consumer on their material.

But by simply being for and about music of black origin isn’t there a divisive climate being created? And isn’t such a climate exacerbated every time the actual awards show comes to the fore? Doesn’t the mere existence of such an award only serve to put a glass ceiling above not only the music being celebrated but the artists being celebrated. Which then means that said artists must then shed a part of what got him the recognition in the first place in order to break through that ceiling?

Ok, so redundant May be too strong a word but there is no getting away from the fact that if the MOBO awards want to be seen as being at the forefront of the Black/Urban music movement in this country then it has to be seen to be doing a lot more then turning up once a year and ritually patting itself on the back. It can be just another award ceremony, or it can be something more.

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