Ed Sheeran Mired in Controversy After Being Named Most Important Act in Black and Urban Music

By Kevin Rutherford

BBC’s 1Xtra gave Ed Sheeran a pretty lofty distinction over the weekend when the singer-songwriter topped its recent power list.

Just one problem: the list was profiling the station’s pick for the most powerful people in Great Britain’s black and urban music scene, and some folks aren’t happy that Sheeran — who is white — is top dog.

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The list, released last Friday (July 11), was compiled for the first time, creating a list of who the station, BBC’s top station for urban radio, consider the “most important UK artists on the scene over the last 12 months.”

Sheeran topped the list and was followed closely by DJ duo Disclosure, both of whom are also white.

The ranking has, according to Buzzfeedcaused some discontent, listing Twitter reactions from people who did not agree with, as one user, journalist Sam Diss, put it, a “really, really super white dude” who was “named the most powerful man in black music today.”

Wiley, a British rapper who placed 16th on the list, was also clear in his unhappiness with certain inclusions on the list, Sheeran chief among them.

Sam Smith was also part of the top five of the list, coming in at No. 4. Tinie Tempah was the highest-charting black musician at No. 3.

BBC explained the decision in a statement, standing in support of the list’s makeup: “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.”

Sheeran commented on the top billing, but did not address the controversy surrounding. In a reply to 1XTRA, he tweeted his thanks for the distinction.

Sheeran’s x was released last month.


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