A BBC power list has named white singer Ed Sheeran as the most important act in black and urban music.

The 1XtraPowerList - which has been called the ‘saddest list in history’ by one black artist - put 23-year-old Sheeran in the top spot, while another two white acts were placed in the top four.

The highest-placed black artist in the list - which was billed by the BBC as showcasing ‘the most important UK artists in the black and urban music scene’ -was rapper Tinie Tempah.

He came third below white brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, from the band Disclosure, while Sam Smith, a middle-class white singer, was put in fourth place by the panel of industry experts. Other white artists in the list include Jessie J and Katy B.

Rapper Wiley, who was placed 16th out of 20 on the list, tweeted afterwards that the list showed black artists in England were getting ‘bumped’. He said: ‘We have been bumped basically. Not taking anything away from ed... he is sick. But black artist in england we are getting bumped. (sic)’

But 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’.

Wiley’s critical tweet comes after claims by the frontman of indie band Bloc Party that 1Xtra and other radio stations - which were originally created to showcase black music - were instead switching to more mainstream hits.

In an article for Vice website, Kele Okereke criticised 1Xtra for axing DJs Robbo Ranks and CJ Beatz, while keeping more club-oriented presenters due to ‘budget cuts’.  He said the UK had ‘an issue with racism that we are unwilling to address’. He said that was reflected in black British culture in general but also in negative attitudes towards black British music. But a BBC spokesman defended the order of the list and said it was not compiled based on skin colour.

A spokesman said: ‘The purpose of ‘1Xtra’s Power List’ was to compile a top 20 list of the most important UK artists from the last 12 months relevant to the 1Xtra audience.

‘The 1Xtra audience were invited to submit their suggestions for the list, and a panel consisting of industry experts and 1Xtra DJs met last week to discuss who should make it to the top 20.

‘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.

‘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.’

1Xtra Breakfast host Twin B, added: ‘This is the first year of 1Xtra’s Power List -which was about celebrating and finding out the top 20 most successful & important UK artists from the last 12 months relevant to the 1Xtra audience.


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