Black artists are rallying against the idea that white, pop-driven entertainers have had the biggest influence over the hip hop, R&B and urban scene.
The BBC’s 1Xtra chart for black and urban music, the 1XtraPower List, turns out to be remarkably, embarrassingly white. The list of the “most influential artists” has been referred to as “the saddest list in history” after Ed Sheeran took the top spot, followed by Disclosure in second. The first Black artist to make the bizarre list was Tinie Tempah, followed by white, middle class singer Sam Smith (who grew up I a small town in East Herthfordshire) in fourth place. The list, which was allegedly compiled by “industry experts” continues in the same vein, with Katie B and Jessie J also making an appearance, the former in the Top 10.
Ed Sheeran topped the bizarre list.
The BBC told The Independent the list was chosen on the artists' 'quality of music' and 'impact across the wider industry', and was 'not about the colour of someone's skin'.
One of the first to speak out was rapper Wiley, who was placed at #16. In a tweet, he wrote: 'We have been bumped basically. Not taking anything away from ed... he is sick. But black artist in england we are getting bumped.”
In another tweet, he drove the point home, saying: We influence a man and all of a sudden it turns he has influenced us ....Lol”
'Artists were considered on a number of variables such as sales statistics, plus more subjective areas like the quality of music and impact across the wider industry - it is not about the colour of someone’s skin, a spokesperson for the BBC said, via the Daily Mail.
'Whilst we know that every list is open to discussion, Radio 1Xtra is a station that cares deeply about black and urban music and has always been committed to supporting new and developing artists, especially those from the UK.'
Some believe that the problem is rooted in 1Xtra looking to the mainstream for the first edition of their list. 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-friendly performers. In an article for Vice, 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.”
I've never been influenced by a white artist to make black music . #Never.— Wiley (@WileyUpdates) July 14, 2014
The station does not plan on making any changes to its controversial list.