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When is Black Music not Black Music

As is always the case whenever the MOBOs come around, there is always the debate about what constitutes Black Music, or Music Of Black Origin, if you will. Given that just about every form of popular music ever created has its roots in black America or the Caribbean, it's kind of hard to pin down what either of these terms mean, especially when one the same music is performed by white artists.

As we reported earlier this week, Jessie J won 4 awards at this year's MOBOs, including 'Best UK Act', sparking accusations that the awards basically meant nothing any more, as black artists weren't getting the recognition that they deserved. Even Lily Allen weighed in on the debate, asking in what way J's music was of black origin, and made the quite pertinent point that if all pop music is of black origin, then why aren't indie bands nominated? It's a confusing one, for sure.

'Now, I love Jessie J as much as the next person, but how is her music 'of black origin'?' asked Allen. 'Is it cause she says 'man dem' in her tune? I am happy for her, I'm a big supporter of hers, I just don't get the logic of those awards.'

The way to think of the MOBOs is probably not so much as a celebration of the African/American roots of all the music we love best, but rather a summing up of what was biggest in the UK's black community in the last year. It's worth remembering too that the same music is and has been beloved by the white working classes for as long as any of us have been alive, even longer, so it should be no surprise to see the likes of Professor Green nominated in 'black' music awards. If anything it's a sign that there is no race bar to being nominated for these awards – if your music is good (or popular) enough, then you've got a chance.

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