With every passing year, the music world becomes filled with new, “cutting edge” genres, ridiculous fashion trends and attention seeking future “superstars”. Representing the last of the purer, more organic musicians is Ed Sheeran, a mild mannered, carrot topped singer whose compositions resemble classic folk. But the power in his delivery (both voice and his guitar) has won him many fans – including those from the Grime scene.
Completing the last of his series of EPs, No. 5 Collaborations Project has the Norfolk singer/songwriter collaborate with a number of 140 Grime Street’s residents, which aims to bridge the gap between the two contrasting worlds.
Rather than being submerged in murky drones and the heavy bass of Grime, Sheeran’s EP is composed of haunting, sensitive production which meshes the protagonist’s acoustic compositions with sombre, intense beats. Ed Sheeran is excellent as a storyteller, even when in the midst of some immense lyrical talent.
‘Lately’ is the narrative for many musicians as both Sheeran and Devlin break down their insomnia, stresses and toils often caused from their line of work. What’s remarkable about the 19 year old is that even when playing the supporting vocalist to the emcee’s lead, he still manages to leave enough of a lasting mark to make each track his own.
Bringing the Godfather of Grime Wiley on board for ‘You’, Sheeran adds a touch of delicacy to the Eski-boy’s introspective bars about family. It’s not all acoustic sessions on Ed’s fifth independent project; the clouds gather to create a tense atmosphere on ‘Family’ as P-Money’s recollection of a near fatal accident adds a chilling edge to the already emotive driven track. This mood is further compounded after listening to the very bleak and disturbing ‘Little Lady’ – a re-recording of Sheeran’s previous ‘A-Team’ track, this time featuring Mikill Pane.
The folk-meets-indie-meets-poetry format seemingly encourages/forces the guests on board to produce more reflective, thoughtful lyricism than per usual. Regardless of whether they are best when at their most insightful, the emcees all give exceptional performances, from JME’s proclamation of never chasing the easy route on ‘Radio’ to the stellar performances by Wretch 32, Sway and Random Impulse on ‘Nightmares’.
For an artist on the precipice of mainstream recognition, No.5 Collaborations Project is arguably the most anti-commercial project to emerge from someone at that level. Yet Ed Sheeran’s ode to Grime, dystopia and family is invigorating and powerful, which challenges the notions of what an artist of his genre (and appearance) should produce.
Whilst the US Hip Hop scene have witnessed artists such as Bon Iver and Dan Auerbach inject their ‘soul’ sound to the genre, Sheeran does the same here; providing the wails and cries which many Grime artists have needed for some time. The EP which solidifies his ‘One To Watch’ tag, Ed Sheeran, on pure talent alone, remains one of this year’s most promising talents.
Ed Sheeran’s No5 Collaborations Project is currently available from iTunes.