House3
CLOSE
MENUCLOSE

So, Ed Sheeran's 'No. 6 Collaborations Project' Is Actually Really Cute

Music
Photo by JM Enternational/Shutterstock.

Even if things did get weird for me when Sheeran started rapping

Last night, Ed Sheeran dropped his full No. 6 Collaborations Project, the one that houses "I Don't Care" with Justin Bieber; "Cross Me" with Chance the Rapper and PnB Rock; and "Beautiful People" featuring Khalid. If you haven't caught on by now, this album is a collaborations project that sees Sheeran crossing borders and genres with each track.


I'm typically wary of these kind of crossover efforts, especially when they involved well-established white artists dipping their toes into hip-hop. In addition to Chance and PnB, the tracklist for No. 6 also includes 50 Cent, Eminem, Young Thug, Meek Mill, Stormzy, Cardi B, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, and Travis Scott. The opportunities for cultural appropriation and vulturing are endless. And yet, I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

Sheeran avoided common, problematic traps by staying true to his own voice and craft throughout most of the album, and by allowing his collaborators to do the same. It became clear about halfway through that the British singer was interested in partnering sounds and vibes, not borrowing them. For example "South of the Border," with Cardi and Camila Cabello, is a club-ready bop that offers up a dash of Latin flavor, and could just as easily appear on one of Cabello's projects. Ella Mai, the singer who has made a name for herself "Trippin" over lovers, helps Sheeran lust after his boo on "Put It All On Me." Then, "Take Me Back To London" is very much a nod to the British hip-hop genre, grime, and makes perfect sense with Stormzy's deep voice. Sheeran has created a body of work that is cohesive and easy to listen to; it's fun, but not really gimmicky. It's very much an invitation to enjoy the music that Sheeran himself likes, not an opportunity for him to merely emulate, let alone exploit, those artists.

Well, there is one exception, though: the songs where Sheeran decided to spit a few rhymes. Let me clear: Ed Sheeran isn't a terrible rapper. He's a songwriter, so putting together some decent bars probably comes naturally to him. Still, it tripped me up every time.

On "1000 Nights," the song with Meek Mill and Boogie, I couldn't tell if Sheeran was trying to rap or just singing really really fast. The same applies to "Antisocial" where his verse cadence was somehow faster than his collaborator's, Travis Scott. But I actively cringed on "Remember The Name," which was already made corny by enlisting two dad rappers: 50 Cent and Eminem. Lyrics like "my wife wears red, but looks better without the lipstick" would probably sound much better in a ballad, but instead Sheeran rapped them, right before saying, "I'm a private guy and you know nothing 'bout my business/ and if I had my fifteen minutes I must have missed it."

Ed, go home, you're drunk.

His rapping is a forgivable transgression, though, in the context of the entire album. He's set an amazing example for how huge pop stars can engage urban artists and rappers without imposing their privilege, or presuming to do their genres as good as them. Miley, take notes.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter.

True
Photo by Lea Colombo

She is building quite the modeling resume

Billie Eilish is a high fashion model. After fronting a Calvin Klein campaign back in May, Eilish now stars in MCM's AW19 campaign visuals alongside rapper Childish Major.

Keep reading... Show less
True
FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo courtesy of The CW

Thank the prep school gods

My day has just gotten 100 times better, because it was just announced that Gossip Girl is officially getting a reboot. All I need to know now is whether Kristen Bell is down to still be the narrator.

Keep reading... Show less
True
Photo via @zara Instagram

The company announced its sustainability plan, and it's pretty impressive

Yesterday, Zara, one of the largest global fashion retailers, announced its sustainability plan for the next five years, which includes its goal to make its collections from 100 percent sustainable materials before the year 2025. Given just how many collections and pieces Zara puts out each year, this goal is pretty ambitious. Zara's parent company, Inditex, has also announced that its other brands, which include Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, and Pull&Bear, will be following suit.

Keep reading... Show less
True
Asset 7
MORE in VIDEO
Photo courtesy of HipDot

Is this keeping you up at night?

In celebration of SpongeBob's solar return (it's the 20th anniversary of SpongeBob SquarePants' first episode), HipDot—best known for their influencer collaborations and marble packaging—launched a skin-care and makeup collection inspired by everyone's favorite underwater sponge. For the most part, the collection is everything you'd expect; the eyeshadow palette features show-appropriate shades like Bikini Bottom Blue, and there's a coconut oil-infused lip gloss called Jelly Fish. Cute, right?

Keep reading... Show less
True

Whether you're going through heartbreak or not

Back with her first release since 2017's Bad Baby, singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe needed to dig herself out of heartbreak, and, in the process, wound up with two EPs worth of new music encapsulating the experience. Ahead of the release of her This Is Better Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 EPs this Friday, Jaffe shares her latest single, "LAY LOW (TAKE CARE)," exclusively via NYLON.

Keep reading... Show less
True