Ed Sheeran named ‘most important act in black and urban music’

Grime artist Wiley calls it 'the saddest list in music history'

The BBC has been accused of producing “the saddest list in music history” after its black and urban music radio station 1Xtra produced a “power list” in which three out of the top four acts are white.

Topping the 1XtraPowerList – promoted by the BBC as naming the “most important UK artists in the black and urban music scene” – was Ed Sheeran, the white son of an art lecturer, who grew up in rural Framlingham, Suffolk, and whose music has combined elements of folk with hip-hop and grime.

The highest-placed black artist was rapper Tinie Tempah, who came third – behind second-placed Disclosure, the white brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, and just ahead of Sam Smith, the white son of a former City banker.

The list, offered by a radio station describing itself as “the UK’s leading black music station”, was condemned by the Grime artist Wiley, who was placed 16th out of 20. Calling it “the saddest list in music history”, Wiley, 35, whose hits include “Heatwave” and “Wearing My Rolex”, tweeted: “Not taking anything away from Ed. He is sick. But black artists in England, we are getting bumped... We influence a man and all of a sudden it turns he has influenced us.”

He added: “England music industry is backwards.”

Wiley labelled it: “the saddest list in music history” Wiley labelled it: “the saddest list in music history” Wiley’s criticism follows claims that 1Xtra and other radio stations created to showcase black music were instead switching to playing mainstream hits. Kele Okereke, the frontman of the indie band Bloc Party, has criticised 1Xtra for axing the dancehall and RnB DJs Robbo Ranks and CJ Beatz because of “budget cuts”, while keeping more club-oriented presenters. In an article for the Vice website, he said: “The UK has an issue with racism that we are unwilling to address – it is reflected in negative attitudes towards black British music, but also towards black British culture in general.”

Black artists who did make the top 10 of the power list included Fuse ODG and Emeli Sande, picked by a panel of “industry experts” sifting through suggestions made by the station’s listeners.

A BBC spokesman said: “Artists were considered on variables such as sales statistics, quality of music and impact across the wider industry – it is not about the colour of someone’s skin.”

Video: Sheeran on the music industry, America and trying new sounds

Austin Daboh, music manager at 1Xtra, insisted: “We are a station that cares very deeply about black music. From Stylo G to Fekky these are all acts that were played, supported and guided by 1Xtra, often before anyone else cared.”

He added: “There is definitely a wider debate to be had around the mainstream support for black music. Legitimate concerns have been raised around the pressure some artists feel to compete commercially.”

Read more: Why did Ed Sheeran top Radio 1Xtra's power list?

Colour blind? 1xtra’s powerlist

1. Ed Sheeran
2. Disclosure
3. Tinie Tempah
4. Sam Smith
5. Rudimental
6. Emeli Sande
7. Naughty Boy
8. Katy B
9. Krept & Konan
10. Fuse ODG
11. Boy Better Know
12. Rita Ora
13. Lethal Bizzle
14. DJ Fresh
15. Jessie J
16. Wiley
17. Giggs
18. Laura Mvula
19. Wretch 32
20. Dizzee Rascal

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices