Central Cee has topped the winners at the 2024 Mobo awards, winning best male for the second year in a row, and best song for Sprinter, his collaborative track with Dave, that dominated the summer months with a 10-week run at No 1.

Elsewhere the awards, which celebrate black musical artistry in the UK and globally, spread the garlands across a diverse range of music, with no one artist dominating.

Raye, who recently scored a record seven Brit nominations in a single year, was named best female act after the success of her debut album My 21st Century Blues, which was independently released after a long spell in limbo at a major label.

She also featured in a strong field for album of the year alongside Stormzy, Little Simz, J Hus and Mercury prize winners Ezra Collective, but the award was scooped by Potter Payper for his debut album Real Back in Style (after six increasingly popular mixtapes).

It gives the east Londoner (with Irish-Algerian heritage) a longed-for victory lap after he had to celebrate the album’s initial No 2 chart position during a two-month spell in prison, his 15th time inside.

Potter PayPer, winner of Album of the Year. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

After his release, he told the Guardian: “I understand that I’ve been making mistakes all my life, and it’s been costing me all my life. Without getting too emotional about it, I missed a massive moment,” referring to the chart success.

Manchester rapper Tunde, who beat nine other nominees to win best newcomer, also recently had a brush with the authorities.

In August he was found not guilty of conspiring to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life, after being accused of plotting a shooting in 2020. Prosecutors quoted his lyrics during the trial to try to demonstrate his guilt, a practice that has sparked concern from artists and free speech advocates in recent years.

In the rap categories Little Simz, who shared the best album award in 2022 with Knucks, won best hip-hop act just days before her next EP release Drop 7, while K-Trap – a first-time nominee at the Brit awards this year – won best drill act for the second time in a row.

Bugzy Malone, who recently branched out into acting with a major role in Guy Ritchie action comedy Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, was named best grime act. Stormzy lost out in the top categories but picked up best video for Mel Made Me Do It, directed by Klvdr.

Inflo was named best producer, while his neo-soul collective Sault – whose immersive concert in a Tottenham warehouse was one of 2023’s most acclaimed live shows – won best R&B/soul act. Ezra Collective prevailed in the jazz category, and international artists Drake and 21 Savage, Asake, Valiant and Limoblaze all won their respective categories.

Best hip-hop act winner Little Simz performs at the North Sea jazz festival in July. Photograph: Paul Bergen/EPA

In 2022, the Mobos broadened to encompass alternative and electronic/dance categories, won this year by reggae-metallers Skindred and versatile singer Shygirl respectively. There were no awards in 2023 as organisers moved the ceremony alongside the early-year awards season that also features the Grammys and Brits.

The 2024 ceremony, hosted by Indiyah Polack and Babatunde Aléshé, was held in Sheffield, the first time the Mobos have been held in the city. Ghetts, Sugababes, DJ Spoony, Cristale, Byron Messia, King Promise and Camidoh performed live sets, along with Soul II Soul, who were given a lifetime achievement award.

The Sugababes, who were also given an Impact award for their musical legacy, told the Guardian they had succeeded in the music industry because they had stayed “real and authentic”.

Band member Keisha Buchanan said: “This is like the stuff of dreams, you know, to be able to have your music be received so well all these years later.”

The Sugababes (from left: Siobhán Donaghy, Mutya Buena and Keisha Buchanan) with their award. Photograph: James Shaw/REX/Shutterstock

Siobhán Donaghy said that there had been “so many opinions” within music the industry of how they should operate as a band.

“I think you have to stick to who you are,” she said, adding that it was easier to get off the ground as an artist now but class was “always” a barrier for working-class artists.

“I read a statistic about how low the percentage was of working-class people in the music industry. So I do feel like the Sugababes have been pretty exceptional,” she said.

“I do feel like, you know, throughout the Sugababes’ career, it’s always had its hurdles, you know, lots of success but a fair bit of hate potentially coming its way.”

Mutya Buena added: “We’ve definitely been able to cross barriers in that way.”

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


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