I wanna try new things, but they just want me to sing
because nobody thinks I write rhymes.
Okay. So think about it. The last time hip-hop gods Eminem and 50 Cent were on a track together was 2012. That was seven years ago.
What’s crazy is that it’s 2019, and Eminem and 50 Cent are on a track together again – only they’re not alone. Ed Sheeran’s on it with them, and he’s not singing on it. He’s rapping on it … and it’s shooting up the charts as we speak.
Ed Sheeran’s No. 6 Collaborations Project has only been out for ten days, but it’s already gone Number One.
One thing that I always forget is the way the “normal,” average person views Ed Sheeran. Most people know him for songs like radio hits, “Shape of You,” or everyone’s favorite wedding song, “Thinking Out Loud.” People probably remember when he was first starting out and his acoustic ballad, “The A Team,” was every singer’s favorite thing to play.
What I always forget is that these people have never seen Ed Sheeran do this —
Hearing Ed on this fast kind of cadence, rapping over his acoustic guitar like that, is something that has become so normal to me. It’s the way that I’ve listened to him for years now. I don’t really listen to the radio so like .. this is the Ed Sheeran I know.
What’s shocking to a lot of people right now is that he actually started out making songs under the influence of hip-hop, rap, and grime music, and that’s why a lot of people are shocked about the content on the No. 6 Collaborations Project.
Before he was ever famous, Ed Sheeran collaborated with other up and coming artists while walking through and sleeping on the streets of London. His artistry was born out of the influence of hip-hop. He even credits the Marshall Mathers LP with helping him work through his stutter as a young child. So when people are already slamming this album for being weird and “not like the Ed Sheeran we know,” and saying things like, “I hate this new Ed. Where’s the old Ed?” like I’m sorry all you listen to is, “Perfect,” but this isn’t a new Ed. This is literally first Ed … and I am so excited that this Ed is back.
The No. 6 Collaborations Project is something Ed’s been working on for eight years now … “Twenty years old is when I came in the game, and now it’s eight years on and you remember the name,” which is pretty awesome if you think of all the successes he’s had between 2011 and today.
I’m a music consumer, obviously. I’m the kind of person who will wait for a song to drop at midnight. When it comes to Ed Sheeran, I have been waiting for new things from him for three years now. Ed released his third album Divide in 2017. Before that his sophomore album, Multiply came out in 2014. If you’ve been a long time fan, you know that what Ed does is he’ll go and make music. It will blow up the charts. It sees major success, and then he’ll tour every corner of the world he possibly can or take a break for three years. What happens in between that time is that he’ll write whatever it is for his next album, and though the wait is agonizingly long – to the point where you actually start hating the stuff he’s released to radio – after those three years are up and he comes back, you know the wait was worth it.
The wait for this album was worth it.
Here’s Ed Sheeran covering 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” in 2011
I know it sounds kind of funny at first, but again, it sounds so normal to me that I just love it. I love that when he covers songs like this, he doesn’t try to be like 50 Cent. He’s covered “Baby One More Time” before, and he doesn’t try to sound like Britney Spears. He doesn’t try to be like the artist on the record. He just makes the song his, and he does it exactly like how Ed Sheeran would do it, and I think that if people would just let the pop radio slide for a second and look into what makes Ed a great performer and artist, I’m almost sure even the most cynical of people would be impressed.
On another note, what’s also impressive is how he spoke this collaboration into existence.
Here’s “Remember The Name” by Ed Sheeran feat. Eminem and 50 Cent
It’s lyrically so good. “My dreams are bigger than just bein’ on the rich list. Might be insanity, but people call it gifted.” I mean, come on. Later on in his verse, he says –
If you thought I was good, well, then I’m better today
But it’s ironic how you people thought I’d never be great.
You know I want way more than I already got.
Give me a song with Eminem and 50 Cent in the club.
When I heard that, I literally screamed. I screamed so loud that my dad had to come in and check on me to see if I was okay. I was so happy hearing Ed rap like that again. What’s also cool is that this song just pays tribute to the people he says he’s looked up to for so long. The phrase “in the club,” on that last line is a reference to the 50 Cent hit, and the repetitive questions on the breaks during Eminem’s verse are reminiscent of the ones “My Name Is.” It’s so cool. You should give it a chance and just go listen to it if you’re someone who can appreciate hip-hop … The degree to which they think these things through. It’s awesome.
I don’t have another soppy story about how this album is meaningful to me, since I’ve only lived with it for ten days – I do have stuff to say about Multiply so maybe I’ll see you another day for that – but what I will say is this. My favorite song off this album is called “Take Me Back to London.” It features British rapper and singer, Stormzy, and it’s the best thing I’ve heard this summer. I’m a sucker for strings, and they sound amazing on the song, but also .. Ed has this special, horrible, gorgeous way of making me miss London.
In 2016, I visited England. I was by myself and alone. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t even know how to take a bus or get on the tube when I got there. The person who sang me through it was Ed Sheeran.
He has a 2011 song called, “The City” about how London doesn’t feel like home even though its amazing. There’s a song off Multiply called, “Photograph,” which I attribute to London streets and memories. When I came back and was so London sick that I missed it so much seeing photos of it made me cry, he released, “Castle On The Hill,” and it made me miss the countryside every day.
“Take Me Back to London” is just an addition to my collection of Ed Sheeran songs that make me miss England. Except this one isn’t really like an, “I miss you.” It’s more like, “That’s my damn city, and I’m proud,” and I love it. I love that he conquers the struggle of fame and missing home in these verses. I love how he addresses how people never thought he’d make it. I love it when he says, “I wanna try new things, they just want me to sing because nobody thinks I write rhymes.” That lyric is the reason why I sat down to write this post.
I know the general public didn’t expect this album from the guy with the guitar all the time – ( wait until you hear “Blow,” ) – but it’s what he knows. It’s what he’s good at. Hip-hop is home to some of the greatest lyricists out there. He had to have learned it from somewhere. I love that he put out this album because all it does is show people who don’t think he can do this stuff, that he actually can, and that it’s actually good … and if you don’t think that, then I’m super sorry you read this far.
Ed’s back on the cadence. THE. CADENCE. Anyone who’s been following Ed’s whole musical journey knows what that means. The “It’s dark in a cold December, but I got you to keep me warm,” cadence. The “My mind will always be stronger than my songs are,” cadence. The “I’m supposed to be calm, I tattooed the lyrics onto my arm,” cadence. The “I wish that love was a currency and the whole world was wealthy,” cadence. Those kind of life-saving cadences. He’s been doing the acoustic love song thing for so long, and although they’re amazing and make me cry the second I hear them, it’s such a breath of fresh air to hear him pouring his lyrics into the thing that people don’t believe he can do when he’s good at it without even bragging about it. Ed Sheeran back on his cadence .. That’s the thing that feels like home to me.
Take Me Back to London by Ed Sheeran featuring Stormzy 2019