MOBO Awards Come to Glasgow
For the first time ever the MOBO awards will be hosted outside of London, and it’s coming to Glasgow. David Pollock gears up for what is set to be one huge celebration of music
‘We’ve been at every major venue in London: the Royal Albert Hall, Alexandra Palace, Wembley Arena, London Arena and we were the first multi-artist show to appear at the O2 Arena, so we thought it was time to take the unprecedented step of moving the show outside of the city,’ says Kanya King MBE, the founder and organiser of the MOBO – Music Of Black Origin – Awards. And thus London’s loss is Glasgow’s gain, as it is Glasgow’s SECC that will play host to the massive celebration this September.
It demonstrates just how much of a multi-cultural society Britain has become even in the last decade and a half, though, that King can now think about taking the event on tour. ‘Taste-making’s an important part of what we do, and we’re committed to identifying and providing a platform for talent from all over Britain. And it’s basically just always exciting to try something different,’ she says.
While Glasgow’s musical scene is hugely vibrant, Kanye West describing Franz Ferdinand as ‘white crunk’ is about as close as the city has been to having a crossover success. The city has a lively underground hip hop and electronic music culture, but it’s still associated in most minds with art school guitar bands or earthy rock groups. ‘We always want to be unpredictable,’ says King, ‘we never like to do what people expect of us.’
‘People asked questions when we moved to the Royal Albert Hall, they thought it would be strange to see hip hop artists performing there, but that’s precisely the reason we wanted to do it. Urban music is often incorrectly seen as being a niche, but we want to turn it on its head and take it to a national audience through radio stations, venues and even cities that aren’t usually associated with black music. I mean, Glasgow has been named a UNESCO City of Music and it hosts over a hundred musical events every week – it’s a capital of music.’
‘Besides, our name doesn’t mean we just honour black artists in the show, in fact we’ve given awards to white acts before (as an example, Mike Skinner of The Streets was nominated in 2004). We want to celebrate people from around the world who have been inspired to create music by black artists and predominantly black genres, be they Motown, hip hop or stars we’ve sadly lost like Michael Jackson.’
In the year of Michael Jackson’s death, and with a huge tribute to the iconic singer in the planning stages, it seems certain that there will be plenty of looking back going on this year.
While King is currentlybusying herself working out the finer points of the Jackson tribute, booking the as-yet-unannounced red carpet stars and even commissioning the specially handmade trophies, she knows the show won’t be going back to London in the immediate future. ‘Oh, absolutely not,’ she says. ‘We always hear from people, ‘why does everything always happen in London?’ Well, this is our chance to sort that out. Now we’ve started, there’s no going back!’
The MOBO Awards 2009 are at the SECC, Glasgow, Wed 30 Sep, visit www.mobo.com
The Best of Black British Music
As chosen by Kanya King, here are just four British contenders from the wide range of international acts who might be up for this year’s MOBOs
That rarest of genres, an X-Factor entrant which looks like it might go on to have a decent career. An acronym of Jack the Lad Swing (which is a fairly rubbish name for a band), the vocal quartet from London are number one in the UK charts at time of press with ‘Beat Again’, and their debut album is due in the autumn.
A contemporary of Dizzee Rascal in his early teens, 22-year-old Kwasi Danquah also hails from Bow in East London. Having worked with artists as varied as Craig David, Gang Gang Dance and Amelle from the Sugababes, he was number one earlier this year with, err, ‘Number One’.
Previous MOBO Best Newcomers, this Camdenite trio have been slowly working their way out of the underground since guesting on Stryder’s ‘Number One’. Two of their number have appeared in the Channel Four series Dubplate Drama, while their second album after last year’s Uncle B is due late this year or early in 2010.
At the age of 18, Tottenham rapper Jahmaal Fyffe has already had three top 40 singles (if you include his appearance on ‘Tiny Dancer (Hold Me Closer)’ earlier this year), is about to release his second album I Am Chipmunk and also won the Best UK Newcomer award at last year’s MOBOs. Phew.