Stormzy, the popular grime MC was the chief recipient of the big awards at the 2017 MOBO awards. The 24-year-old won honours for the best album- in the wake of his Gang Signs & Prayer debut, the best grime act and the best male artist. Not only was grime at the fore front of the musical accolades, but it also has been endorsed by politicians too. The Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has established a positive relationship with the genre through interviews and a social media outreach programme initiated during the 2017 election campaign. Corbyn stated that “It’s more important than ever that we celebrate black excellence and recognise the achievements of black communities. This year grime artists played a huge part in setting the agenda for British music and in the General Election, your contribution helped secure the highest youth turnout in a quarter of a century, showing the positive impact grime has on our society.” Grime has gone from the marginalised peripheries of British society to becoming charted as the almost mainstream voice of ‘urban’ youth.
Other winners on the night included Stefflon Don who won best female act, veteran rapper Giggs picked up best hip-hop act , J-Hus’ ‘Did You See’ was awarded the best song and up and coming talent Dave won best newcomer. The Music of Black Origin awards were founded in 1996 to recognise and celebrate British black culture and music – similar to the American BET awards. The ceremony was diverse in its awarding systems as it comprised genres such as gospel, jazz, African and international. Even though these types of music are less commercially successful, they are mediums in which black artists can express themselves and their stories, so need to be acknowledged to the same extent as hip-hop and grime are. This year the awards were held at Leeds Direct Arena, which is a welcome location away from London. The MOBOs have been criticised for its increasing commercialisation and influence from the United States. However, this year the acts granted honours have often originated in the undergrounds of British sound culture and so that critique is extraneous.
Article by Yohannes Lowe.