The MOBOs (Music of Black Origin Awards) didn’t even get to celebrate 20 years before it was reduced to half a page in a free paper and where winners (two, though mainly one) of nearly 40% of awards, were not black.
If it wasn’t bad enough to find out that there wasn’t an Afrobeats category, there were no categories for women in hip hop and on the night, the late John Holt did not get a mention.
I’m speaking as someone who has not attended the MOBOs or watched in seven years, I’m also speaking as someone who enjoys many genres of music in many languages and I can easily identify sounds that are on my wavelength.
I’ll be going around in circles if I focused on the outcome. The baseline is, when the categories were conceived and nominees chosen, they might as well have held the awards ceremony there and then behind closed doors. I think that pretty much goes for anything were voting is involved as part of an institution; people are asked to choose after a decision has been made.
I still believe at it’s root, the idea of the MOBOs was/is noble, who better to represent the greatness of your art than you? To be a part of a diverse minority in Britain, to create music for yourself, that happens to be liked by others beyond your ‘group’, to the point where it is widely recognised, is an awesome achievement in itself. For an event such as the Music of Black Origin Awards to come along in 1996 to globally showcase the music of black Britain was monumental. How then, are categories so narrow and winners so not black, this black history month?
If major music events were to be believed, you’d think that the UK does not have a substantial number of artists, who are black and make good music; it is easy then to see why many black Britons either don’t know or turn up their noses at the mention of UK Hip Hop and R&B.
I’ve decided that I’ll leave this discussion alone in the future, not because I don’t care any more, just because it’s draining, and I could be spending time finding new artists and listening to music that suits me, instead of lamenting about what is on the telly.
I’m a firm believer in plural voices in the arts, yes it’s good to have an established platform, you’ll find expertise and a great network. Though when there is a ‘definitive’ voice and others, chances are, the others will be sidelined and buried. If another ‘black music’ ceremony comes along in Britain, I’m all for it.
We can’t possibly listen to all the music that exists, likewise, we cannot learn or teach history in one month, so why should such a wealth of expression be condensed into 3 hours on one day and not represent those it claims to?
If it doesn’t do exactly what it says on the tin, should the name change