It’s got moxie, that’s for sure. Because even after 20 years of handing out awards for music of black origin, and taking flak left, right and centre for it, the MOBO Awards are still with us. The MOBOs shouldn’t, and never will, be all things to all people. But, even as it unites its award-winners in celebration, it continues to divide its audience.
Following last month’s mix of poetry and rap, the GNC crew returned with two new acts for Undisclosed: Porter Shields and Scoop.
There’s a fire brewing along the edge of the Arctic Circle. And if gets any hotter it may just begin to melt the icecaps. This week sees the return of the raw talent that is Nicole Willis. Brooklyn-born and now Helsinki-based, her first two albums with the Soul Investigators (Keep Reachin’ Up (2005) and Tortured Soul (2013)) are marvels of original, sensational soul music – they’re more than 60s “throwbacks”.
Part clubnight, part talent showcase, this was a premier, of sorts, for the new monthly event, which is organised by north London DJ collective, We GNC, and happened at the South Place Hotel, London, on April 4.
Seeing a showcase of fledgling music acts the day after the Brit Awards puts the art of music-making in sharp relief. Because while it’s tough for anyone to sell music nowadays, for unknown and unsigned artists it’s a constant struggle just to be heard.
If any of the six acts at the February edition of Radar at Under the Bridge in London, organised by Music Week and MusicConnex, were frustrated with the noise levels, they did well to hide it. The boldest made animated efforts to connect with the audience of A&Rs, music press and invited industry guests, encouraging sing-alongs, rave-fuelled hip shaking and, in the case of Fifi Rong, aerobics, even though the air of post-work reluctance was there.
The six artists – Bella Figura*, Jungle Doctors, Princess Slayer, Geovarn, Fifi Rong and Naomi Scott – each had something different to offer on an evening of instant attractions and acquired tastes.
Django Django are a band many folks missed in the packed Olympic year of 2012. Their self-titled debut album was a curious drift through quartet choruses fit for a sweltering summer in a beachside bar and wonky, electronic-rock evoking the chill of midnight deserts. The whole thing was a surreal, sonic safari. (Kind of like boarding a rocket and swinging around the Earth in low orbit, I imagine.) It also earned them a 2012 Mercury Prize nomination.
Brazilian hip hop doesn’t get much of an airing outside of its Latin American homeland and diasporas. A real shame, because the rappers and beat-makers of the Rainbow Nation have plenty to offer.
Pearls Negras, originally from Rio’s Vidigal favella, are a proud example. This female trio, now based in London, is serving up attitude-filled, baile-funk (the dance music borne of Rio’s nightlife) for the party goers who arrive fashionably late and aren’t afraid to tell the host to “bow down”. Still in their teens, Alice Coelho, Jennifer ‘Jeni’ Loiola and Mariana ‘Mari’ Alves rap with a fiery confidence that comes from growing up fast in the often unforgiving slums of their hometown. The beats are punchy, bearing similar elements to soco or bashment (Rihanna comes to mind; though the trio’s own non-Brazilian influences include Beyoncé, Ciara and Nicki Minaj).