MOBO UnSung 2017 tour highlights

It’s a big ask to get peo­ple down to any new music show­case on a Mon­day night. A big ask. But even with the slight turnout, Tig­gs Da Author, Ali­ka, Mega, Lloyd Luther, and a hand­ful of oth­er new names turned up the ener­gy on the final night of the 2017 MOBO UnSung tour.

This was the final leg of the tour in Lon­don, fol­low­ing stops at Man­ches­ter and Bris­tol ear­li­er this month.

Here are the high­lights and some thoughts on these tal­ent­ed up-and-com­ers who took the audi­ence at Zigfrid von Under­bel­ly to steamy love nests, brood­ing streets, and showy West End night­clubs with their music.

Tiggs Da Author

You’ve prob­a­bly heard music by Tig­gs Da Author in the last 24 months, even if you didn’t know it. His ener­getic sin­gle ‘Run (feat. Lady Leshurr)’ has been pop­ping up on film and game sound­tracks, sports cov­er­age tri­als and prod­uct adverts.

In per­son, the 26-year-old trans­forms from soft­ly-spo­ken sto­ry­teller in between songs to a soul-bear­ing singing machine who can’t help but let loose dur­ing them. “Baby! I’m feel­ing sex­u­al!” he screamed, as he leaped for­wards, eyes closed and hands raised in empha­sis, on the cho­rus of the funk-charged, Rick James-tinged ‘Brand New’. That par­tic­u­lar song is Tiggs’s enter­tain­ing advice not to for­got your wal­let when you take a girl on a date – lest she pay the bill, cuts you off com­plete­ly, and you end up writ­ing a song about it (“You need a real one / A strong one / A broth­er that’s down the for long run”).

There’s bit of Cee-Lo Green, Mar­vin Gaye and Rick James about this young Tan­zan­ian musi­cian. An abil­i­ty to turn one’s mis­for­tune into catchy melodies that are heavy on the feel-good fac­tor is some­thing Tig­gs is very good at. He per­formed his debut sin­gle ‘Geor­gia’, the dab-ready par­ty track, ‘Swear Down’, and the infec­tious ‘Run’, all with only a gui­tarist and back­ing track to aid him. Cool-head­ed enough to laugh at him­self, but equal­ly ready to lay down the funk fire, it would be a crime if he doesn’t get a shot at the big time. And soon.


Win­ner of MOBO UnSung 2016, west Lon­don­er Ali­ka is a bold new tal­ent. She raps, she sings, and she knows her way around a sound engi­neer­ing desk.

Over the drip-drop hol­lows of her trap song, ‘Ray’, she rapped with sprite­ly ener­gy. ‘Wavey‘ by CilQ, which Ali­ka per­forms vocals on, is a song ready-made for Fri­day night club­bing. You can prac­ti­cal­ly pic­ture the mass of bod­ies mov­ing wild­ly to its assertive pulse. So, it was risky tak­ing on this song with no back­ing dancers or crew to lend sup­port on the tiny stage that night. But, Ali­ka jumped straight in with no fear, strik­ing pos­es dur­ing the verse with arms and legs, and rolling her hips as she sang, “Get high, get lit, get drunk, get wavey”. Her stage pres­ence is strong and so is her dri­ve to succeed.


Lon­don singer Mega sounds like she was born for the stage. Rich, whole­some soul music in the vein of India Arie and Whit­ney Hous­ton is what you can expect. Her per­for­mances of ‘Black Girl in a White World’ (a reworked cov­er of Michael Kiwanuka’s ‘Black Man in a White World’) and ‘Gar­den’, an orig­i­nal song about find­ing your own sanc­tu­ary, saw her hit huge notes and got the whole place on their feet.

Rae Leviné

Spo­ken word artist Rae Lev­iné is unafraid to tack­le the most sen­si­tive sub­jects. In her music-backed spo­ken word poems, shared sto­ries of unre­quit­ed love, men­tal health strug­gles, and a response to the effects of knife crime, to name just a few.

She had a chal­leng­ing start get­ting the crowd to sim­mer down, but once she had atten­tion she cast their minds to the hor­rors of gun vio­lence, and why we should end it, with her pow­er­ful poem ‘The Gun Talks Too Much Part 2‘.

Lloyd Luther

Lloyd Luther (fka UG) is a youth men­tor and moti­va­tion­al speak­er from Leices­ter. But he is also a mul­ti-tal­ent­ed artist, writ­ing and per­form­ing his songs, pro­duc­ing the music, and even design­ing the cov­er art.

His left-field hip hop pro­duc­tions bring the work of Doseone (Adam Druck­er) and Ghost­po­et to mind, while his rap­ping itself bears the cadence and feroc­i­ty of Akala. The stim­u­lat­ing ‘Pow­er’ and the street-wise ‘Hid­ing in Plain Sight’ (“They’re hid­ing in plain sight / I was watch­ing BBC late night… I was telling my mates, right: we should stick to togeth­er, ‘cause you know what today’s like”), both from a forth­com­ing 2018 project, were on point. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, UK hip hop artists mak­ing con­scious music that doesn’t neat­ly fit into the cur­rent trends in club and grime music face an uphill strug­gle. But that hasn’t stopped Essa or Ghost­po­et, and it’s unlike­ly to stop Lloyd Luther either.

Jay Alexzander

It’s not only his steamy R&B that makes Jay Alexzan­der a com­pelling young artist, it’s the fact that he can open a show­case on a chilly Mon­day night, and deliv­er his steamy R&B with the kind of suave con­fi­dence that encour­ages cou­pling and dan­ger­ous­ly close intimacy.

Look­ing every bit like one of his con­tem­po­rary R&B peers, in his gold-framed, cir­cu­lar specs and dark, pat­terned silk shirt, open at the col­lar, he per­formed a gor­geous ode to his love of mak­ing music, ‘Live Alone’. His cov­er of Miguel’s ‘Quick­ie’, mean­while, oozed sex in every syl­la­ble, reach­ing out to some of the ladies in the crowd as he sang. Jay has three EPs to his name so far, includ­ing 2016’s The Pro­logue. On the strength of his per­for­mance last night, he is an artist that fans of Ush­er, The Week­nd and Miguel absolute­ly need to hear.


British-Niger­ian music pro­duc­er Wild­Boy­Ace was ner­vous about tak­ing the stage, as he not­ed that, like many pro­duc­ers, he sat­is­fied to “stay in the back­ground”. Still, he per­formed a limey Afrobeat song to wind hips to with his rap cohorts, Big Toes and Jobey. He also said he’s work­ing on songs with Skep­ta, Sec­tion Boyz and Abra Cadabra.

The MOBO UnSung tour was pre­sent­ed by iluvlive.

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Images: Aaron Lee