Standout Moments From The 2020 MOBO Awards

Including a guest appearance two 2019 Love Island faves & a powerhouse performance from Ms Banks.

by Sophie McEvoy
Originally Published: 
MOBO Organisation/Donnie Sunshine/Shutterstock

Founded in 1996 to celebrate Black music, the MOBO Awards had its 24th annual ceremony last night (Dec. 9), with young Black artists including Mahalia and Nines taking home some of the biggest awards.

Broadcast virtually over YouTube due to the pandemic, the event was hosted by Maya Jama and musician Chunkz who brought immense joy to the ceremony with their ongoing banter, the highlight of which was their magnificent entrance via electric scooters.

Many performers and winners at the awards used their time to emphasise the importance of activism in light of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, and the event itself provided a platform for some of Britain's best Black talent to showcase their work. "[It's] been such a unique year and MOBO has always had a spotlight for talent to shine," MOBO founder Kanya King told the BBC. "Entertainment and activism have always gone hand in hand, and we're using the power of black culture to empower and uplift people."

If you weren't able to catch the ceremony live last night, you can watch the highlights via iPlayer now. And below are some stand out moments to get your started.

The Winners

Let's start with most important element of the night: the winners. Jamaican-British songwriter Mahalia and rapper Nines took home the most awards of the night, with Nines winning Album of the Year and Best Hip-Hop act and Mahlia for Best Female Act and Best R&B/Soul Act. Ella Mai also featured on the record that earned Mahalia these awards, and she herself won Best Album 2017-2019 for her self-titled debut released during the MOBO's two-year hiatus. Headie One's first album Edna, dedicated to his late mother, earned the rapper the award for Best Male Act. The album debuted at number 1 in the UK charts, and remained there for almost a month.

Album of the Year: Nines — Crabs in a Bucket

Best Male Act: Headie One

Best Female Act: Mahalia

Song of the Year: Young T & Bugsey — "Don’t Rush" (ft. Headie One)

Best Newcomer: Aitch

Video of the Year: Lupita — "NSG"

Best R&B/Soul Act: Mahalia

Best Hip-Hop Act: Nines

Best Grime Act: JME

Best International Act: Burna Boy

Best Performance in a TV Show/Film: Michael Ward as Marco, Blue Story

Best Media Personality: Chunkz

Best Album 2017-2019: Ella Mai — Ella Mai

Best African Act: Wizkid

Best Reggae Act: Buju Banton

Best Gospel Act: CalledOut Music

Best Jazz Act: Ego Ella May

Best Producer: Jae5

Inspiration Award: Steve McQueen

Maya Jama & Chunkz

MOBO Organisation/Donnie Sunshine/Shutterstock

Arguably the best friendship to blossom out of 2020, Maya Jama and Chunkz absolutely killed it as hosts at the MOBO 2020's. After meeting in September at Soccer Aid, the pair have constantly been throwing banter across social media, which continued during their hosting duties last night.

"She's good vibes and it's just one of those things where we chatted on social media so when we did meet each other it was banter," Chunkz told Metro. "She's a good friend."

Jama has similar sentiments, also telling Metro that Chunkz is full of good vibes too. "I guess you'll see the chemistry on the night, or lack thereof, but he's great," she said. "I was a fan before we met anyway. He's got good vibes."

Chunkz also bagged an award during the night for Best Media Personality, beating out Jama as well as Clara Amfo and Mo Gilligan.

The Star-Studded Presenter Line Up

Jama & Chunkz were joined by an exciting array of presenters throughout the night, including Loose Women's Judi Love, Leomie Anderson and Jourdan Dunn (in two breathtaking outfits), and former Love Island stars (and one of the few couples still going strong) Priscilla Anyabu and Michael Boateng.

"Music of Black origin remains one of the most influential artforms, so much so that our music accounted for over a third of music in the UK singles chart this year," Boateng said. "Pop music is of Black origin."

Kojey Radical's Exclusive Performance

MOBO Organisation/Donnie Sunshine/Shutterstock

Debuting his song "Good," Kojey Radical performed in front of a montage of video clips from BLM London protests in the summer, as well as still images of signs reading "I can't breathe," "Eliminate racism," "Why is ending racism a debate," and "Justice 4 Grenfell."

In the track, Radical looks back on 2020 and the events that transpired following the death of George Floyd in March. "Wonder why I go to sleep at night still feeling restless," he says, "Knowing that the skin I call a gift could be a death wish [...] It's more than just a virus it's a mindset, and if we're going to find the answer it takes all of us to find it."

Following on from his powerful performance, Radical tweeted a video of him and his new baby watching the clip together. "My son got to see me perform for the first time tonight," he wrote. "I got the only trophy I could ever need the day he was born."

Steve McQueen Winning MOBO's Inspirational Award

One of the nights biggest winners of the night was Steve McQueen, who was given MOBO's Inspirational Award for his contributions to film and television. Kanya King presented him with the award, emphasising his importance for Black British audiences and how he has "consistently pushed the boundary of the medium" and forced "the British industry to finally embrace its Black talent."

"This is an extraordinary prize, thank you so much," the acclaimed British director said. "The MOBO awards for me is part of the ideas of Small Axe. When people didn't want to recognise us, we recognised ourselves and that's given me the inspiration to go forward."

Starting with Mangrove on Nov. 15, McQueen's five-part anthology series Small Axe has garnered international praise for his retelling of significant moments in British Black history. "I felt these stories needed to be shared. I wanted to re-live, re-evaluate and investigate the journeys that my parents and the first generations of West Indians went on to deliver me here today calling myself a Black British person," McQueen said of the series.

"What's important about our stories is that they are local but at the same time global. I think audiences will identify with the trials, tribulations and joy of our characters as well as reflecting on the present environment in which we find ourselves."

A special screening of McQueen's 2018 film Widows also took place, which included a Q&A with the director.

Powerhouse Female Performances

The frontrunner of female British rap Ms Banks gave a stellar performance of her songs "Snack" and "You Don't Know," the latter dedicated to British YouTuber Nicole Thea, who died of a suspected heart attack in June while pregnant with her son Reign Tecruz who also passed away. Banks also called out the ongoing SARs protests against police brutality in Nigeria, as well as Uganda after 45 people were killed in protests against the arrest of a presidential candidate. "Until this day I'm screaming end SARs," Banks says, "End brutality in Uganda you know who you are."

Singer-songwriter Tiwa Savage made her 2020 MOBO stage debut, following the release of her fourth studio album earlier this year. Described by MOBO as someone has been "pivotal in elevating Afrobeats to become one of the world's most celebrated genres in recent years," Savage's performance was a major highlight of the night.

Banks and Savage were joined by American royalty H.E.R., who performed the sublime track "Damage," in addition to Tiana Major9's stunning performance of "Same Space?"


Towards the end of the night, organisers took the opportunity to introduce a new platform for Black creatives: Mobolise. Aiming to "help transform the creative & tech industries," Mobolise is a digital platform "to connect Black talent with the best career opportunities within the most forward-thinking organisations." The platform has yet to go live, but you can sign up to the beta version to learn more, support Mobolise, and gain early access once it's released.

You can catch-up with the 2020 MOBO Awards on YouTube and BBC iPlayer.

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