I Was On The 1Xtra Panel That Wiley Said Made The Saddest List Of All Time
I called up the chair of the panel, 1Xtra Breakfast Show DJ Twin B, to see whether he thought it underrepresented black artists.
These were the experiences of our editor Sam Wolfson at the 1Xtra Power List Panel, followed by an interview with Twin B, the 1Xtra breakfast show DJ and chair of the panel.
At the end of last week, 1Xtra announced a power list, which, in a press release, they claimed featured “a list of the top 20 most important UK artists in the contemporary black and urban music scene.” At number one was Ed Sheeran, followed by Disclosure, Tinie Tempah and Sam Smith.
A first, it seemed to go relatively unnoticed. But then Wiley, who only appeared at number 16 on the list, took to Twitter, calling it the “saddest list of all time.” He later said, “I've never been influenced by a white artist to make black music,” and, in reference to the grime scene, tweeted: “We influence a man [Ed Sheeran] and all of a sudden it turns he has influenced us ....Lol”. It felt like a revisiting of the debate between Kele Okereke and Austin Daboh, 1Xtra's head of music, that went down on Noisey last week. I thought Wiley made a fair point, and one I’d be inclined to agree with, had I not been on the panel that decided the list.
When I first got the email about the 1Xtra power list I thought of Dean Blunt, what he’s been saying about his Black Metal album, challenging the black identity put forward in Kanye’s Yeezus. I thought about grime artists who’ve been around for over a decade but seem to have been given a new lease of life over the past year - the likes of Big Narstie, Jammer and Danny Weed. Mostly I thought whether I should have a say at all - as a white music journalist whose conversion to 1Xtra only came at the age of 16, after a lengthy spell where my radio was only ever tuned to XFM.
But when I arrived to meet a group of 1Xtra DJs and industry experts at their studios, it was clear that those weren’t discussions especially relevant here. On the wall was a list of suggested artists that included Adele, John Newman and Sam Smith. We were each asked to pick three artists that we thought should make the list and so, from the longlist provided (although we were free to make other choices), I picked Skepta, Stylo G and Fuse ODG, each of them, I felt, powerful leaders within their scene who've been able to not only release great music this year, but been able to change their own fortunes and the fortunes of others around them.