Mahalia and Nines win big at MOBOs 2020

By Kirsty Grant
BBC Newsbeat

Image source, MOBO
Image caption,
Mahalia won Best R&B/Soul and Best Female at this year's awards

After a two-year break, the MOBO Awards have returned with a socially-distant show.

The ceremony was hosted by Maya Jama and Chunkz and broadcast on YouTube.

Mahalia and Nines both won two awards, with Mahalia taking home Best R&B/Soul and Best Female and Nines winning Best Album and Best Hip Hop act.

Mahalia told Newsbeat: "As a young black artist at the MOBOs, everything it stands for and holds is really special."

Image source, MOBO
Image caption,
The pandemic "put a stop" to a lot of Young T and Bugsey's plans

Young T and Bugsey were awarded Best Song for Don't Rush.

The Nottingham duo said the viral Don't Rush challenge helped it become such a staple sound of 2020.

Bugsey said: "Day by day it was just growing and getting bigger and bigger, we had no idea that would happen.

"I was a big wrestling fan as a kid, so when I saw that the whole WWE lot did the challenge I was like 'yeah, we're doing something'."

The pair released their mixtape at the start of the year, with plans for tours and other live performances.

"All artists have had to learn how to manoeuvre through it, hopefully next year shows will be back again."

Image source, MOBO
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In a year filled with "way too many Zoom calls", the Best Newcomer award is some good news for Aitch

Aitch, who picked up Best Newcomer, said the event was a good end to a bad year.

He told Newsbeat: "It's sick to be recognised for what I'm doing."

In a year like no other, Aitch says time away from touring and performances has had some advantages.

"Some things have happened that wouldn't have happened if I was out on the road."

Although he's done "way too many Zoom calls".

Image source, MOBO
Image caption,
It was Maya's second time hosting the show

Chunkz won Best Media Personality up against names including Clara Amfo, Mo Gilligan and co-host Maya Jama.

With social-distancing measures in place, it might not have been the best year to host such a big event. But, after the MOBOs were cancelled in 2018 and 2019, founder Kanya King said she "felt like she had to" bring them back.

She said: "2020 has been such a unique year and MOBO has always a spotlight for talent to shine.

"Entertainment and activism have always gone hand in hand, and we're using the power of black culture to empower and uplift people."

This year's ceremony also included a one-off category to retrospectively award the best albums released between September 2017 and August 2019, which was won by Ella Mai.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Nines won two awards, and gave his acceptance speech via video

For a lot of artists, the pandemic was a chance to get creative.

Mahalia released her EP Isolation Tapes in May, made up of songs she previously hadn't found time to finish.

"If isolation hadn't happened, I might never have seen those songs again," she says.

Although it's been a "confusing and stressful" year, Mahalia said ultimately she learned to "be present and full of energy online".

"I think a lot of us artists in that time realised how important social media platforms are," she says.

"It's a gateway to be able to speak to fans. I wasn't very good at that before so this has been a learning curve for sure."

Young T and Bugsey agree.

"It made you interact with fans more and people who support you more because you can be connected," Young T said.

Full list of winners:

  • Best Female Act - Mahalia
  • Best Male Act - Headie One
  • Album of the Year - Nines, Crabs in a Bucket
  • Song of the Year (public voted) - Young T & Bugsey feat. Headie One, Don't Rush
  • Best Newcomer (public voted) - Aitch
  • Video of the Year - Nsg, Lupita directed by Kevin Hudson
  • Best R&B/Soul - Mahalia
  • Best Hip Hop - Nines
  • Best Grime (public voted) - Jme
  • Best International Act (public voted) - Burna Boy
  • Best Performance in a TV show/Film (public voted) - Micheal Ward as Marco, Blue Story
  • Best Media Personality (public voted) - Chunkz
  • Best Album (2017 - 2019) - Ella Mai, Ella Mai
  • Best African Act (public voted) - Wizkid
  • Best Reggae Act - Buju Banton
  • Best Gospel Act - Calledout Music
  • Best Jazz Act - Ego Ella May
  • Best Producer - Jae 5
  • Inspiration Award - Steve McQueen

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