What do Benny Goodman, Paul Whiteman and Elvis Presley have in common? They have all been labelled as Kings of their craft.
The King of Swing, The King of Jazz, The King.
They were all White musicians, coronated standing on the shoulders of Black artists like Fletcher Henderson, Jackie Wilson and Count Basie.
Ed Sheeran joins the list of those White musicians who have risen to the top of music originally made by Blacks. Its nothing more than history repeating itself.
As I read inflammatory articles and status updates talking about BBC 1Xtras decision to name Ed Sheeran at the top of the list, I sat and smiled. People are getting too hyped about the inevitable its unreal. This post isn’t to knock Ed Sheeran as an artist at all. There is no doubt that he is talented and no doubt that he deserves all the recognition for his hard work. This is about the Black reaction to the list.
Q: How can a White man be the most important act in a category for Black people?
A: If the category isn’t representative of Black music.
What is Black music anyway?
Can you really define a genre of music by the colour of some peoples skin? If so, where is the White Music category? Brown Music? Somewhere-inbetween-Beige-and-Caramel-Music?
What is Urban Music?
adjective \ˈər-bən\ : of or relating to cities and the people who live in them (Merriam-webster)
Why get annoyed?
‘Black music’ has always transcended physical, emotional, spiritual and legislative barriers. If the BBC decide to anoint Ed Sheeran as the King of Urban Music 2014 then so be it. If Blacks continue to identify with categories not defined by themselves, their identity will be lost and will only be resurrected by the next batch of Caribbean, African American or African immigrants whose identities are reflected even by their names. As much as you want to laugh at so called ghetto names like De’Vondra or TiAndre, maybe that expression of identity is not so different to Ornette Coleman and ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’ . It says ‘I refuse to be labelled as what you say I am, I refuse to do the norm. Here’s something different. Something I define and my people understand’.
Maybe the BBC needed to crown Ed in the Black and Urban music category because they didn’t know how else to define the music Blacks are making. Maybe they picked one of the most popular singer songwriter around today and unwisely compared him to a pioneers like Wiley and Dizzee. It shouldn’t have happened. But the fact that it did, shows that ‘Black and Urban Music’ is no longer for and no longer made by the very people it originated from. Lets all move on and keep calm.