Continuing with the next project in his collaborative series set, Ed Sheeran follows the 2011 No. 5 Collaborations Project EP, with a full body of work that spans across various spectrums. The previous collaboration project was primarily focused on the UK Grime scene, as it predominately featured England rappers. This time around, Ed Sheeran crosses the pond, and utilizes a diverse range of artists that rivals your usual DJ Khaled tracklist. First impressions is what you expect from your ordinary commercially calculated Ed Sheeran album.
Succeeding with the ability to allow each featured artist provide their specific sound, the collaborative efforts is better than you’d expect. Emerging onto the scene, what captured the attention of Ed Sheeran was his songwriting capabilities, but since the 2017 record breaking album, Divide, it has become apparent that Ed has become rather lazy. On this project Ed takes a step back and caters to the techniques of the featured artist, as opposed to giving this a meaning to what listeners are consuming. Such is evident in songs like South Of The Border, where it relies on the hispanic culture of Camila Cabello and Cardi B, that could’ve just been a song with the two without Ed. But what’s impressive is his ability to mesh the sounds with unexpected artists that don’t seem to work on paper, but surprisingly do. Songs like Antisocial, are engaging, a stereotypical Travis Scott song, but it’s a fun, creative approach to Webster’s signature autotune.
The stacked tracklist is at times overwhelming to keep up with, but provides appeal to the variety that fans can appreciate. Puling out all stops, Ed gave us a Eminem and 50 Cent song in 2019 (Remember The Name), something that we didn’t ask for, but after hearing it, we have to applaud him for making the two sound the best they have in a while. As Eminem references the iconic MTV TRL, you can’t help but realize the song is a love letter to 2003, which is also apparent in the Ella Mai assisted, Put It All On Me, which features a formulaic 2000s radio appeal. Meanwhile, Meek Mill’s verse on 1000 Nights was a standard Meek verse, H.E.R on I Don’t Want Your Money, channels the sounds of the R&B hook girls of the previous decade, and album closer Blow, the most surprising on the album, is quite possibly the best representation to this compilation project.
Mirroring the abilities of Timbaland, the charm of the project is the fact that it captures the organic studio feel; with Ed being aware of his presence in the music industry, working with who he wants, meshing sounds that shouldn’t work but do, and just releasing it whenever he feels like it. Despite any criticism listeners can have, it’s a fun project, that nails what mainstream music represents. Whether or not thats a good thing, it sort of feels less of America’s top 40, but a Spotify playlist that combines genres and somehow sounds cohesive, could be considered as Ed Sheeran’s, ‘More Life’. Face it majority of compilation albums that feature mainstream heavy hitters are 99.9% formulated to dominate the charts, and this project is just that. Ed admitted that he makes music to break records, and this attempt might be his most desperate to date, but it’s a surprisingly good listen that makes you forget that it’s all calculated.
Best: BLOW, Antisocial, Put It All On Me, 1000 Nights, Feels