Update 15/07: The BBC has defended Radio 1Xtra’s Power List, saying criticism of the dominance of white acts on the list is “misguided”.
1Xtra’s music manager Austin Daboh told, er, Radio 1’s Newsbeat: “Every single day of the week, every single hour of the day we support black artists and other races that make black music sounds.
“I think that anyone who wants to bring race into the discussion is probably a little bit misguided.”
BBC Radio 1Xtra has published its Power List, a rundown of, in the station’s words, the 20 most important UK artists in “the scene”.
“The scene” is obviously a vague term, but it’s fair to presume that it refers to black – or at least “urban” – music (1xtra still officially describes itself as a “black music network”, though the U-word is increasingly the one wheeled out by BBC bigwigs). Three of the top four acts on the station’s list – Sam Smith (#4), Disclosure (#2) and winner Ed Sheeran – are white, which has caused a sizeable furore amongst the station’s listeners.
Wiley, who appears at #16 on the list, tweeted today referring to it as “the saddest list in history”, adding that “we influence a man and all of a sudden it turns he has influenced us. England music industry is backwards.”
“Should of done a who sold the most list”, he continues, “It’s sad to know u lot think this way. VERY SAD. We have been bumped basically. Not taking anything away from Ed, he is sick, but black artists in England we are getting bumped.”
It’s worth noting that 1xtra never specifically referred to the list as rating influence, though ranking by how “important” an artist is certainly implies that it’s a key factor.
Boy Better Know founder and sometime Wiley collaborator JME, however, emphasises that “it was called a ‘power list’, adding “Ed [Sheeran] is a badman. Powerhouse.”
Earlier this week, music manager at 1Xtra Austin Daboh defended accusations that the Xtra playlist was too dominated by white acts, claiming that the station’s “commitment to black music and specifically black British artists will always be the cornerstone of what we do, it’s part of our distinctiveness.”