In a month it will be time for the annual MOBO AWARDS in association with Lebara Mobile. The biggest urban music event in Europe and unlike the show in past years of old where it may have been overrun and dominated by American stars from the black music world, now it’s a new day! Us Brits are the stars of our own scene and the MOBO AWARDs last year proved that point beautifully!.
Last week it was the MOBO AWARDS launch party at the plush Mayfair hotel where as you can expect, anyone who is anyone in the industry was in attendance. This year I am part of the MOBO team alongside my old mate founder kanya king and so when they asked me to conduct the press room interviews on behalf of MOBO TV. I only had one stipulation ‘’only if I am the first interview that the talent come to’’ I demanded. Kanya laughed. Yep. Nothing changes. At MTV I always insisted to press teams that we would only cover an event if MTV were the first crew on the red carpet too. It’s business-nothing personal.
So there I was on the night having just run across from my full time day time TV job across town arriving to meet my MOBO TV producer Chris who was awaiting me with sheafs of paper that I was told were the all important MOBO nominations for this year-that no one had seen yet! How exciting!
Mobo Awards founder Kanya King turned up in a blood red dress in a number 15 red double decker route master bus with N Dubz as the paparazzi flashed away to capture the moment. Number 15 obviously reflected that this year marks the 15th year anniversary of the show -what an amazing achievement! Until you’ve been in the industry and attempted to organise events and moments its impossible to imagine the struggle, obstacles and tenacity that’s needed to have longevity in this game.
I dragged my 47 bags up to the MOBO suite to get freshened up and no sooner had I had a quick wash than Chris was on the Dotiwala batphone instructing ‘’we need you down here NOW-Chipmunks just arrived!’’. So with no time to pop on a cute outfit or get made up, I sprinted back into the press room where my crew were ready and the manic marathon run of interviewing this years big nominees began.
First up to get the Dotiwala treatment was best UK HIP HOP/ GRIME nominee Akala who was very happy with his nomination as were the whole of the articulate hip-hop fans he was representing.
Roll deep caused excitement on their entrance as they came full crew 8 people deep and told me they were worried about any of their competition as they were in a league of their own. Sexy ladies former Mis-Teeq member Su Elise and artist Egypt were happy to speak to me together. Su Elise reminisced about her history with the MOBO’s where she and her fellow Mis-Teeq ladies took over the stage and awards at the height of their fame. A girl group that no one knew posed and pouted for a minute but quickly moved on as no one knew who they were. There were whispering that they might be wags or page 3 girls so most of the press were pretty sneery about not wanting to speak with them. It was only later that someone mentioned they were a new girl group. Oops.
Actress and singer Preeya Kalidas arrived with her musical partner in rhyme skepta who is nominated for BEST UK HIP-HOP/GRIME and he also revealed he was one of the MOBO tour headliners.
Aggros Santos looked pleased to be on the red carpet especially after his track has dominated the urban radio airwaves most of this summer.
Magician Damian O Brien impressed me with some devilry trickery slight of the hand magic. I also had a nice chat with relative newcomers to the mainstream Devlin and Fugitive. Jazz musician Yolanda Brown and Guvna B were in high spirits as they celebrated Guvna’s best gospel nomination whilst heartthrob of the grime scene-Scorcher was doing his best to bat the ladies off.
My favourite moment was revealing to Tinie Tempah that he was the lead nominee with 4 nominations for best newcomer, best UK act, best song and best video. He was expectedly shocked and delighted. He genuinely had no idea about his nominations and for the rest of the night was beaming from ear to ear.
Comedian Kojo was mingling with his crew backstage and the sweet mannered DJ Ironik and Kanya King were bantering together about the success of the UK scene this year.
MOBO host 2009 and 2010 Mr Reg Yates was on top form and threatened to present part of this years show in a mankini.
One time MTV character Andre Spence was running around grabbing twitpics on behalf on the MOBO twitter page.
After all the interviews the crew and I ran downstairs to the main public lounge where cocktails were flowing, free
Caribbean food courtesy of Cottons restaurant was being munched, a lot of networking (or was it flirting) was going on and Reggie Yates was the master of ceremonies inviting music stars to unveil various category nominations. Chipmunk was as articulate as ever, as was Akala. It was impressive to see how far our perception of cool has come. Just a few years ago music stars tried tom play down their intelligence under the false assumption that being stupid somehow helped their street cred. Acts like Chippy and Akala have really spun this myth around 180 degrees and I thank them for helping the younger generation see the light.
I did have one gripe whilst the nominee announcements were being made though. Annually the attending guests talk all the way through it not paying attention or hearing what’s being announced! Why? If this were a Brits, MTV, Mercury press announcement you wouldn’t be able to hear a pin drop so serious are the journos and talent about hearing what’s being said. In the MOBO room it was so noisy its pretty pointless having Reg and the rest trying to remain professional onstage whilst all around them are ignorant noisy attitudes.
I told Kanya next year to forget the food and drink that makes the guests think they’re here just to party. Open the doors at 7pm. Make the announcements at 7.30pm. Kick everyone out my 8.30pm. Lets see how attentive they are then. Its about manners and respect people. There is plenty of time to socialise afterwards. Can you not give 20 minutes of your attention to the main point of the evening!?. What nonsense!. Ok rant over. Smile. We’ll get there. One day. Yes we can.
Straight afterwards we all piled into the elevator to crash the gifting suite en masse where every artist and celeb in attendance was walking away with free goodies. I spotted the gifters trying to convince vertically challenged KissFM presenter Melvin to try on some stack heels that add inches to your height. Apparently they’re very common in Japan. Not sure if he went for them but he did leave laden down with girly stuff like handbags for the women in his life. Su Elise and Lisa Maffia walked away with GHD tongs and twinkly costume jewellery. Tim Westwood accepted some clothing, N Dubz had enough to need a people carrier to help them home , Donaeo was eyeing up some nice jackets whilst I settled for the coolest looking sneakers by new hot on the block brand cr8tive creation and a pink manicure. This years awards are on October 20th in Liverpool- if the launch party was any indication of how big the awards night will be-I suggest you book tickets, bikes, planes, trains and automobiles now to make it!