Mobos 2002: The nominees: like most UK awards there’s a faint tinge of the unneccessary about the MOBOs, and the polite fudge that “music of black origin” needn’t be “music made by black people” is typically British – all it really means is ‘No Rock’. It does reflect the ‘two-tone’ character of UK urban music, though, and this year – swathes of nominations for starry US names aside – the faint tinge is fainter than usual.

UK Garage did what jungle never could and made urban British music fashionable and successful, after years when the main reaction to the likes of Beverly Knight (soul’s Tim Henman!) was a kind of embarrassed goodwill. Garage was great dance music, but we’ve always made great dance music – the really important thing about it was that it made the idea of British voices singing soul and R&B and even MCing a credible and commercial one again.

So this year’s MOBOs are celebrating the post-garage fallout – So Solid, Mis-Teeq, Ms.Dynamite, Bedingfield, The Streets, and then further out even Blak Twang and the Sugababes, few of them making anything you might call ‘garage’ but all of them finding their profiles either raised or made more credible by the increased attention UK Garage brought to British urban music. And all of those people had no profile at all two or three years ago, and all of them have put out a brilliant single or album or both this year: right now is probably the most exciting time in British pop music for a decade. This year it might even be worth watching the MOBOs.

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