The tenth anniversary of the Music of Black Origin Awards came and went with less publicity and fuss than last year. There was no fuss over the inherent violent homophobia in reggae music, no protests and little press coverage. However this was not a massive problem because it did allow the awards themselves to take centre stage particularly in an anniversary year. After a quick look back over clips and music from other years (most of which was pretty uninspiring and showed how little hip hop and r'n'b has moved on) the awards ceremony settled down into what appeared to be a ceremony just looking for a nice quiet night.
The first award for best album went to UK reality TV runner-up Lemar with his bland pop music beating Kano and, even more depressing, Common's fantastic Be (although Common is generally seen as one of those "nomination is the award" people). Lemar was also to scoop other awards and he was the overall "winner" of the night further evidence that the ceremony was looking to make up for their shambles last year and remind the public what an important and accessible awards they are. Best hip hop act was a very strange choice in the form of the unsigned Sway; probably an attempt to also show the awards as being "down" rather than going for 50 or The Game although most of us know that Roots Manuva should have been there. I personally think John Legend is fairly bland but he was the best in his category. Youssou N'Dour was a worthy and unsurprising winner but the idea that there has been a better single this year than Amerie's "1 Thing" is frankly laughable. Kano rightly took one award and the reggae award gratefully embraced a load of "safe" artists and gave it to Damian Marley. The Lifetime achievement award was more than deserved for Public Enemy and the tribute to Luther Vandross was a pretty good touch.
As the host Gina Yashere was loud, a bit obnoxious and surprisingly unfunny unlike a good host (Billy Crystal for example) I couldn't wait for her segments (literally) to pass. Akon was poor and clearly just looking to give the MOBO's a "name" in exchange for exposure (everyone was too polite to mention that his terrible songs failed to garner a single nomination for him). The presenters are typically wooden and made up of a strange mix of black TV stars and such many of whom will be unknown outside of the UK. The performances are mostly reasonably good although I suppose it depends on your taste. It was good to see Lauren Hill back on stage as part of looking back over the past but if this was part of her come back then failing to move forward was a mistake on her part. Kano was very good with a well-done stage but personally I felt that Lemar's bland crooning just shown how wrong his two awards were. Ms Dynamite was OK and it was more my personal distain for reggae that stopped me enjoying the Marley performances than anything else.
Overall an OK awards ceremony but not one that I'll remember for very long. A better ceremony than last year of course but yet somehow the overwhelming dominance of hip hop and r'n'b in the charts has yet to be ridden fully by this ceremony. Mostly good and safe winners with a few surprises and some winners who actually deserved it.
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