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Little Simz, Central Cee and Ghetts scoop top prizes at the Mobo Awards

Central Cee, Potter Payper and RAYE were among the winners at this year’s Mobo awards, the annual celebration of Black music talent in the UK.

Stars of rap, soul, indie and R&B gathered at the ceremony – hosted by Indiyah Polack and Babatunde Aléshé – in Sheffield on Wednesday evening (7 February).

Central Cee scooped Best Male for the second year running, as well as the award for Best Song for his summer bop “Sprinter”, a collaboration with Mercury Prize-winning rapper Dave.

Pop star RAYE, who recently smashed a Brit Awards record by receiving seven nominations in a single year, was named Best Female Act following the success of her independently released debut, My 21st Century Blues.

The prize for Album of the Year went to Real Back in Style by rapper Potter Payper, who fended off competition including Stormzy, Little Simz, RAYE, J Hus. Mercury Prize 2023 winners Ezra Collective, also up for a Mobo for Album of the Year, won Best Jazz Act.

Little Simz took home Best Hip-Hop Act on the same day she announced her surprise new EP, Drop 7, will be released on Friday 9 February. Her longtime collaborator Inflo, who produced her Mercury Prize-winning album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, was named Best Producer, while his neo-soul collective Sault won Best R&B/soul Act.

Little Simz won Best Hip-Hop Act (Getty Images For MOBO)
Little Simz won Best Hip-Hop Act (Getty Images For MOBO)

Best Drill Act went to K-Trap for the second consecutive year, while international artists Asake, Valiant, and Drake and 21 Savage also received awards. The alternative and electronic/dance categories, introduced in 2022 to acknowledge Black artists’ achievements across a wider variety of genres, went to Skindred and Shygirl, respectively.

Mobos founder Kanya King said it was “amazing” coming to the city as she entered the Utilita Arena Sheffield, recalling a time in 2009 when she was warned that “nobody will show up” if she took the awards show out of London.

“And we went to Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds and we'll keep on moving around the country,” she said.

Potter Payper with his Album of the Year award (Getty Images For MOBO)
Potter Payper with his Album of the Year award (Getty Images For MOBO)

“For us, it's about honouring our mission to celebrate all different cultures, bring people together and use the power of music to allow young people to dream big, to think big and be inspired.”

She added: “One of the things that's important for the Mobo Awards is to honour the past and inspire future, so having Soul II Soul here - they are the musical soundtrack to my life. So, having them here is phenomenal as well as Sugababes and Ghetts, there's something for everyone.”

Singer Beverley Knight said: “The focus is still on what's coming through - the new generation, as you can see, of British talent. And it's world-class, world-beating.

“When I first started there was a few of us, and we didn't have this kind of a platform. That necessitated the need for the Mobos in the first place.

“Fast-forward to now. Not only do we have the platform for British R&B, British hip-hop, afro beats and everything else, but it's world-beating. It's taken over the world. It’s wonderful, as someone who is an OG, to see this celebration.”

Knight also reserved special praise for RAYE, who was not present at the ceremony, as someone who has been “working and plugging as a songwriter for such a long time”.

“And, finally, she breaks through,” she said. “And she doesn't just break through. She's dominating worldwide. Which is an extraordinary thing. That would not have happened when I first started. I'm just in awe of what she's doing.”

See the 2024 Mobo award winners in full

Best Male Act: Central Cee

Best Female Act: RAYE

Album of the Year: Potter Payper – Real Back in Style

Song of the Year: Central Cee and Dave – “Sprinter”

Best Newcomer: Tunde

Video of the Year: Stormzy – “Mel Made Me Do It” (dir Klvdr)

Best R&B/Soul Act: Sault

Best Hip-Hop Act: Little Simz

Best Grime Act: Bugzy Malone

Best Drill Act: K-Trap

Best International Act (US): Drake and 21 Savage

Best Performance in a TV Show/Film: Damson Idris as Franklin Saint, Snowfall

Best Media Personality: ShxtsnGigs

Best African Music Act: Asake

Best Caribbean Music Act: Valiant

Best Jazz Act: Ezra Collective

Best Alternative Music Act: Skindred

Best Electronic/Dance Act: Shygirl

Best Producer: Inflo

Best Gospel Act: Limoblaze

Lifetime Achievement Award: Soul II Soul

Impact Award: Sugababes

Paving the Way Award: Jessica Ennis-Hill

Pioneer Award: Ghetts