Who sold the soul or the Misrepresentation of Black Music origins?
So one of the most important music legends Sir John Holt died very recently and yet not a mention was made last night at the very awards that should have been paying homage to his musical legacy. Even the recipients of the MOBOs Reggae awards category omitted to say anything about Sir John Holt. Therefore it's time to ask some serious questions about this annual Corplantation back slapping event.
Originally the idea behind the MOBO awards from the organisers seems to have been to hold an awards ceremony to acknowledge the Black contributions to various musical categories. Black Artists who were continually ignored in the British music industries own annual back slapping awards events would finally be recognised by their own.
The regular Music industry events usually led to if not a permanent place at least a temporary amount of quality access to the international and home commercial music markets that many thought were very too tightly controlled by larger concerns like the main Radio Stations (BBC), Major Record companies & Media in order to keep the profile of Black British music artists in check.
Every year without fail a succession of creditable Black British music artist were overlooked for any proper acknowledgement from the main music industry awards.
Some would say that White privilege was in full effect and the “We keep the masters and we will let you slave off that” Major Record company mentality ruled supreme!
Major award ceremonies like the 'BRITS' for example constantly promised but never delivered anything of worth to black music artists who were for all intents and purposes ‘Invited to the house’ but it always felt like they were made to metaphorically ‘stand in the garden’. Into this over the top white privileged music world strode the self appointed Black Music awards saviours the MOBOs who placed themselves right in the middle of the road to what we hoped would be to put a stop to this oversight and at the same time to supposedly be the antidote to all that was wrong with all the regular music Industry Awards, I mean didn’t the Black Americans have the BET awards? At the same time these MOBOs would take on the mantle of a kind of glittering noble Arthurian Black Knights club, by naming themselves the MOBOs - motto ‘Saviours of all Music of Black Origin’. We bring the funk to your awards world, however as we have seen all that ‘glitters is definitely not gold’, because the funk cannot only move, it can also remove! In this case it removed the main ingredient ‘Soul’.
From its inception however the MOBOs had a troublesome time in establishing or describing what it actually meant to do or stand for, by choosing an anagram name that probably had good intentions at the outset but unfortunately regularly missed the bus, by offering a kind of delusion of inclusion pick and mix awards. Important categories like Rock; Blues & Soul were excluded to the bemusement of everyone.
Instead the MOBOs seemed to take on the mantle of - in the words of Screaming Jay Hawkins "Black music for White folk" Words like Urban, R & B were the new grand titles or elements that were used on the frontline of this new dawn to bamboozle MOBOs followers into believing that the music of Black Origins were safe in their capable hands.
“Show me the Mammy”
A showboating, all bells ringing Twerking spectacle was offered up for the Corplantations for each MOBO awards night. Posturing faux gangsters throwing shapes posing in Hired dinner jackets, clinking crystal - drinking champagne, these fashion Chaps and Chapettes were the Bizniz, The happiest and most welcome folk shown on our televisions in ages. Presented by Industry standard walking Auto tune stalwarts, who were constantly changing costumes like amateur dramatic pantomime Dames. What a show! Roll up, Roll up, Nuff Skin Tweet, Instagraming, Facebooking film it on your phone. These were Native instruments of a very different digital kind. If you were watching, looking, thinking you could dig at all. Well this was a sign of the times, Come on get real or get lost!
This really was a new beginning further exasperated by a heavy handed ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ manoeuvre that continually drained away at that most important of all the elements needed to have full credibility in a Black Music experience ‘Soul” Yes a troublesome but important four lettered word called Soul was fast becoming the MOBOs Kryptonite.
The NOBROs a name that has quickly been gathering pace, was a term coined from influential Black British musicians, whose intelligent use of social media platforms has helped to highlight issues and problems within the music industry and to show their disapproval at the shallow path that the MOBOs has followed.
“Pop will eat its Selfie”
How much product did the artists shift?
Have they crossed over into the Pop charts?
Are they on the front cover of any magazines?
These seem to have been the gleeful guiding criteria looked at by those MOBOs in choosing who were nominated and in designating categories as well as who actually won the MOBOs awards. Normally these would be the main Criteria taken into consideration for industry awards however the MOBOs had from the outset promised so much more.
The historic white privilege music industry key-holders sighed in relief as its own artists continually won the MOBOs awards, It was pretty much business as usual.
"Stop talking all that Jazz”
There were also troublesome years when for instance the Jazz category was inexplicably dropped from the awards!!!! Leading to successful protest lead by Jazz musicians like Abram Wilson and Soweto Kinch.
I mean if Jazz is not of black origin then what is?
Fortunately the organisers were made to see sense through the sheer weight of protests that they very quickly reinstated the jazz Category the next year. By the way did you know most years the Jazz award ceremony is held off camera? Yes, kind of like the Brother under the stairs or just the black Sheep of the family. The winners are almost hidden away.
So winners like his years much-deserved recipient Zara McFarlane are unfortunately denied the chance to reach a wider audience in their moment of triumph.
‘Soul the MOBOs Kryptonite’.
Singer Omar & and Brit funk and Black music legend Bluey of ‘Incognito’ fame, led well orchestrated protests that brought much needed mainstream media attention to the fact that music with Soul was omitted from any category recognition... To think if James brown were alive even he would have trouble raising any interest from these MOBOs!
"Popularity breeds contempt or is it much Hilarity?"
So in conclusion, as yet another years MOBO awards ceremony garners ridicule, frustration & bemusement partly at the Presentation, but mostly at the validity of something that is clearly not fit for purpose.
It once again raises vexed and very valid questions that have rose each year.
If music such as Rock, Blues, Soul, Funk are still not afforded any place or recognition at the MOBOs then for what purpose does this award ceremony actually serve?
What in the eyes of MOBOS constitutes Black origin music?
Or should the words Misappropriation or Misrepresentation of Black Music origins be used instead?