The 26th annual MOBO Awards saw a star-studded evening in a particularly frosty Sheffield this year. Kicking off with a glitzy red-carpet and a warm introduction by dazzling hosts, Indiyah Polack and Babatunde Aléshé, the night felt like a celebration of Black British music past, whilst firmly looking to a bright future.
The evening featured a career-defining performance from Pioneer Award winner Ghetts, who called for a Free Palestine amongst a number of other nations, speaking to countless political “double standards”. To put it simply: this was truly Ghetts’ night. Whilst humbly grateful for his recognition from the MOBO Awards, Ghetts also used his acceptance speech as his opportunity to call: “Let’s make the awards about the music and not the music about awards.”
Speaking to Ghetts post-performance, he remarks: “I just wanted to get the performance right.” When asked how he thinks the performance went, he laughs and smiles in his quietly confident demeanour: “I think I iced it.” He notes how he doesn’t particularly prepare for acceptance speeches beforehand also; “If I end up writing anything it becomes complicated and not as genuine […] I wanna thank MOBOs as well for this, for recognising me and for giving me my flowers, I really do appreciate it.”
Ghetts was not the only one using his platform for positive change however, with Lifetime Achievement Award winners Soul II Soul providing a rousing acceptance speech, proclaiming “it’s time for the government to clean up their mess, and respect the children of the Windrush who came over here to rebuild your country.”
The night also remains to be one giant party, epitomised by Bugzy Malone who took home Best Grime Act. Malone popped a bottle of champagne on stage as he said: “When I first started doing music, nobody in the north was making money and now we’re out here successful, independent. So I guess tonight we’re celebrating Black independence.” Meanwhile, in celebration of 30 years of UK garage came a phenomenal ten-minute remix from DJ Spoony of everyone’s favourite garage tracks including So Solid Crew’s anthem ‘21 Seconds’ and Monsta Boy’s classic ‘Sorry! (I Didn’t Know)’.
There was an undeniable warmth in the room and the night ended with a truly magnificent performance celebrating Soul II Soul’s career, everyone walking out of the arena with the legendary ‘Back To Life’ still ringing in their ears.
Check out the full list of winners here.
Words: Grace Dodd