NOVEMBER IS a key time for many things. Bonfire Night comes hard off the back of Halloween (money to be spent, then more money again!), then touring season is in full swing, with this season seeing a number of key black artists hitting the UK.
As I write this, Sean Paul has just completed a sold-out UK tour, which also saw Jamaica’s Chi Ching Ching and Shenseea hit the road with him. The MTV European Music Awards added a splash of colour to the bitter London winter nights last weekend, with the glamour and style that only an iconic large event can do, and I will be hosting a special not-to-be-missed BrukOut ‘n’ Bowl event in central London (a shameless plug – check out the updates page at thisisbrukout.com).
Then we round the month off with the annual black music awards show, the MOBOs. It feels like the MOBOs have had a barrage of criticism for one thing or another since its inception – some justified, some maybe not so – but they always seem to come back fighting.
Screened in more than 85 countries, the ceremony is definitely a window into which the rest of the world can look at what is happening in the UK. The identity of the awards has always been a major bone of contention, and over the last few years there have been new awards shows that have been coming for their crown including the UMAs (Urban Music Awards) and the Rated Awards.
One of the plus points for the MOBOs is that it isn’t just a London thing. Recent shows have taken place in Glasgow and Liverpool, and this year, Leeds plays host to the event.
I admire the fact hat the rest of the country gets an opportunity to share the love. With that in mind, I decided to take a look at the Best Reggae category. Reggae and dancehall doesn’t seem to get the airtime I feel it deserves on the actual TV show (I really dislike the “Here’s who won earlier” process that they do – why not screen the actual awards, like gospel, African and reggae? These are the backbone of black music – give them the profile they deserve).
However, there is an argument that says reggae and dancehall should be two separate categories, but that could take up all of the space for this column on its own. There is a panel of reggae professionals who have submitted a list of nominees – the top five of these are grouped together to form the runners and riders. 2016 saw Popcaan walk away with the award after a stellar year.
So, who do you think will be taking the long walk from their table to the stage in Leeds later this month to collect the trophy? Let’s have a look at the contenders…
Sheldon Lawrence, aka Aidonia, has had a phenomenal 2017. ‘Yeah Yeah’ ran the streets during the summer and is still doing its thing as we speak. A consistent performer and recording artist, his quality is always evident. He doesn’t flood the market and an Aldonia release is always highly anticipated
He is the man who has the youngers on lock, and it seems controversy is never far from him. His talent is undoubted and he is absolutely tuned into what the youth market is after. This year saw the star link up with Kojo Funds and have a smash with the ‘Extra Lesson’ remix. The UK loves him, as the amount of people who wanted to see him at Brixton Academy proved…
We finally got that debut album from him this year, and it didn’t disappoint. The touring specialist, always seems to be performing around the world. He has a clear affinity to the UK and even shot his video for ‘Likes’ right here in the UK. 2017 has been a good year for him.
Junior Gong put his stamp on 2017 with his incredible ‘Stony Hill’ album, 12 years on from ‘Welcome To Jamrock’. A plethora of singles preceeded the release, and then came the tour which saw him sell out the iconic Somerset House venue in London.
Popcaan, is the current holder of the title, and 2017 picked up where 2016 left off. His global ties are well documented, from working with Davido in Africa, to saluting the UK’s artists on his tour in July, and of course his partnership with Drake. A certified global artist now.
So there you have it. Take your pick and let us know who you think will take the title. Whoever is successful, I would like to congratulate all the artists – including the ones who aren’t on this shortlist – for making 2017 a memorable year for music.