You try to overlook cultural appropriation. You try to get over it. Then some stuff like this happens and you’re left staring at your cellphone screen holding back the urge put cracks into it over the ‘W,’ ‘T,’ and ‘F’ buttons.
The BBC’s 1Xtra is a radio station that features Black and Urban music. This year they debuted their 1XtraPowerList which named the top twenty most important acts in Black and Urban music. White artist Ed Sheeran was chosen for the #1 position.
This list has a number of hilariously bizarre issues, but let’s start with young Ed here. He’s a skilled songwriter and musician who has multiple successful collaborations with Urban artists. He’s even collaborating with The Game on a full length album. His presence on the list is deserved. However…
Tinie Tempah, one of the highest profile Black artists in the UK, is third on the list. Second is Disclosure, a White British electronic music duo. Fourth is Sam Smith, a White r&b/pop singer. The whole list can be found here.
Austin Daboh the music manager of 1Xtra is Black. He, along with the BBC, support the list saying that it was not comprised based on skin color but on the quality of the music produced.
There’s no info on who made the list, but some of the judges who determined the order were Daboh himself and his all-Black full-time dj staff. So a list of important Black and Urban music artists that was dominated by White artists was determined by a Black staff? Told you it was bizarre.
Throughout music history as White artists overtook Black artists in popularity and sales in musical categories from country to blues to jazz to rock the same story has been told: ‘We chose the quality, not the color.’
But this time it was done by some of those that look like the artists catching the shaft. You can be sure that there are a bunch of reasons, financial, political, social and otherwise that brought something like this to be.
No matter how they try to legitimize it, the sting of cultural appropriation still hurts. Again.
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