But is he the most influential urban artist on the U.K.'s self-proclaimed "leading black music station"? That's where he landed on BBC Radio's 1Xtra station's first-ever Power List, which got at least one fellow honoree scratching his head. Sheeran topped the list, with the top four spots rounded out by EDM duo Disclosure, rapper Tinie Tempah and crooner Sam Smith. (The selections were submitted by listeners and the list then compiled by 1Xtra DJs based on sales and more subjective qualities like "the quality of music and impact across the wider industry.")
"I've never been influenced by a white artist to make black music," U.K. rapper Wiley said. After placing #16 on the list, the grime MC took issue with a trio of white artists taking three of the top four spots on the list, in a series of tweets.
1Xtra DJ Twin B said everyone just needs to settle down about the controversy, though, which was apparently stirred up by the station saying that the list represented the "Top 20 most important UK artists in the scene from the last 12 months."
As the Guardian noted, since 1Xtra calls itself the "new black music network," it's seems logical to assume that "the scene" refers to the black music scene.
BBC Radio 1Xtra's music manager, Austin Daboh, also defended the list, saying, "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."
Sheeran seems to have stayed out of the controversy, though he did make an intriguing plea for cooler heads to prevail.
Well played, Ed, well played.