An unsigned rapper who sells his CDs on the street has beaten off competition from some of the world's biggest-selling artists to be named the best hip-hop act at the tenth annual MOBO Awards.

Hailing from Hornsey, 23-year-old DJ Sway (real name Derek Safo) triumphed over top-drawer rappers like 50 Cent and The Game to win the gong at the Music of Black Origin awards last Thursday, which was voted for by the public.

"In the commercial world, I wouldn't stand a chance against someone like 50 Cent," said Sway. "But this shows that the work stands up and that it's reaching the people that matter."

The unsigned star emerged from the London grime scene - an abrasive sound mixing garage, ragga and hip-hop with a defiantly lyrical take on British inner-city life.

But his lyrics are purposefully non-violent.

"We are proud of our British heritage and if someone like me can get on MTV, it gives hope to British kids," he said. "With the right backing, the grime artists can take America like the Beatles did."

Growing up in a strict Ghanian background in Hornsey, with strong educational values, Sway's parents originally disapproved of his career choice.

But after seeing some of his friends go to prison, they were relieved he was not involved with that scene.

Over the past year, Sway has recorded two CDs This Is My Promo, volumes one and two which he sold himself on the internet, on the streets, after gigs, and distributed to independent record stores nationwide.

Where other artists on the "mix-tape" circuit tend to sell in the hundreds, Sway estimates that he has sold around 10,000 copies of his two CDs. He is now making an album called This is My Demo, due to come out in February. He has no plans to join a record label as yet, preferring to remain independent.

Sway has had a lot of support from pirate radio stations and 1Xtra, the BBC's urban music digital radio station, which playlisted his first song, On My Own, three years ago.

He has also been helped by fans such as British grime star Dizzee Rascal, who Sway supported on a national tour last year.