Ed Sheeran-No. 5 Collaborations Project [Review]

I received a press copy of this about a month ago, and it’s a testament to how good the EP is that I’m still listening to it now. The quality of the EP and the incredible hard work Ed Sheeran and his team have put in have paid off, as this has bolted up to #2 in the iTunes download chart! I’m told it even had top spot for a brief time last night too (and when competing with Rihanna, this is no mean feat).

So who is Ed Sheeran? And how did someone whose main influences include the likes of Bob Dylan & Damien Rice come to collaborate with some of grime’s best artists? The 19-year old hails from East Anglia, first picking up his guitar and making songs in 2002. He got his big break appearing on SBTV, exposing Ed’s music to a whole new scene, resulting in contact with the artists who feature on the EP, amongst others (like Example, who enlisted Ed as tour support). Click on below to read our review of this EP.

Kicking off the EP is the collaboration with one of my favourite artists about right now, Devlin. Ed and Devs go bar for bar, in a manner reminiscent of the infamous and incredible footage of them both freestyling backstage at an Example gig. They certainly recreate the same chemistry they showed in that video and deliver a track that wouldn’t sound out of place on Devlin’s recent critically-acclaimed Bud, Sweat and Beers album. The name of the track is Lately and it’s essentially a lyrical tale of the famous saying, ‘I can sleep when I’m dead’. Both artists can certainly relate to each other in terms of how hard they’ve worked to get where they are: this is a song that proclaims in the world of success, there’s no time for laziness.

The next track sees Ed collaborate with Wiley, who is another interesting character to say the least. Not usually known for reflective and deep tracks, I was surprised by this song being just that. Manifesting as a dedication by Wiley to his mum and his nan, this is a song that really sees Wiley come into his own as an emcee – it’s a timely reminder of what he’s capable of. Backed up by a great beat and a top quality hook by Ed (one that you’ll find yourself involuntarily singing along to), this is quite possibly the best track my ears have heard Wiley on. Up next is the lead single from the EP, called Family. This song boasts a dubstep-influenced production, and with the collaborator of choice being P Money this comes as no shock, as he’s certainly not afraid of tackling such beats. What did come as a shock was the personal nature of the track, with P Money detailing the events that occurred after a bad car crash he suffered last year. Ed’s vocals are the perfect supplement to an already haunting beat that really captures the tone of P Money’s verses.

Track 4 is named Radio and is a collaboration with JME. It’s a song that chronicles the eternal struggle all artists face when it comes to the decision of either making the types of songs that stays true to their soul, or making radio friendly pop tracks. JME, being a grime artist you could never accuse of straying from making music that he wants to make, is the perfect man for this song and it’s great to hear his thought process as to why he will never conform to the mainstream pop sound. It’s evident that Ed Sheeran and JME are cut from the same cloth with regards to this, which emphasises the chemistry they share on the song, as Ed provides another hook that is just very satiable to the ears.

One of Ed Sheeran’s most successful songs (and a personal favourite of mine) The A Team gets the remix treatment by Mikill Pane, who isn’t a name I was familiar with before receiving this EP. The remix, under the new guise of Little Lady, is an unbelievable effort of storytelling by Mikill, which (if you didn’t hear the original) has a strangely effervescent feel to it, despite it being a song of a dark nature: it took a brave man to take on this song and he definitely does it justice with his heart-warming story of a prostitute trying to survive in London. The words “heart-warming” and “prostitute” aren’t ones you’d normally expect in the same sentence but this story is one that will really tug at your heart strings, and it’s Mikill Pane’s ability to make the song personal to the listener that really shines through. With his constant referral to the protagonist of the story as “you”, it creates a very clever way of making you relate to the story even if you’ve never been through such hardships.

Ed switches up the tempo with the pulsating song Drown Me Out which features one of the best in the grime scene, Ghetts, a man that is undisputedly one of the most respected names in grime. Having said that, I don’t really dig his flow on most of the tracks I hear him on, though listening to this track offers the reason that his production choices doesn’t always suit his powerful and quick flow. However, this song is just tailor made for him, supplemented by Ed’s chorus which adds to the song immeasurably: “you can drag me in the deep ends, but you will never drown me out”. This, along with Ghetts superb verses, really gives this the stand-out motivational, wake up in the morning and wanting to take on the world attitude that no other song provides on this EP.

The penultimate track of the EP, Nightmares, is one that breaks the structure of the project in that it is a collaboration with Random Impulse, Sway and Wretch 32, rather than just collaborating with just one artist. All three of them deliver quality verses, as Sway delivers the witty punchlines we’ve come to expect from him and rising star Wretch 32 closes the song with his verse, which is my favourite on the song. With that said, you’re left wanting more from this track, and I certainly would have preferred hearing Wretch and Sway collaborating with Ed on their own, as well as hearing what Random Impulse (a name I’m not familiar with) would have brought to a full track. I then remind myself that this is meant to be just an EP and not a full length album, so I’ll stop nitpicking. Ed’s chorus on this once again provides the perfect haunting vibe that the track encapsulates in all other aspects.

As we come to the final track of the EP, it must be said that from a production standpoint, the EP is immaculate. Jake Gosling, who co-produced the album with Ed Sheeran, succeeded in bringing us an EP that not only showcases Ed’s talents as a singer-songwriter, but also brought the best out of each MC that collaborated on the album. Everyone brought their A-game to this project, and the final collaboration with Dot Rotten, Goodbye To You, is a perfect example of this. An incredibly emotional track, Dot Rotten pays tribute to losing a loved one who was influential to the person he has become. Anyone who has lost such a role model; whether it be (for example) a mother, father or grandparent, will find this track to be their favourite on the EP, of that I have no doubt. Just listening to the song you can imagine how hard a song it must have been for Dot Rotten to make and it highlights his enormous potential to become a leading name in the music scene.

With the release of this EP already causing big waves, it’s fair to say Ed has achieved and even surpassed what he, and surely many others, expected. As mentioned previously, with virtually no promo he’s gained exposure to audiences that probably didn’t know who he was last week. Along with the urban acts on this EP, Ed Sheeran (as well as singers such as Yasmin) are a perfect example of a burgeoning and (some might say) already prominent UK music scene, and these are certainly exciting times we live in for UK music. Go cop Ed Sheeran’s album on iTunes and help this EP reach #1, which is no less than what it deserves.

Click here to purchase the EP (as you can see from the 5 star reviews on iTunes alone, £6.32 is a bargain!). You can also grab hold of his other projects over at his website.

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9 comments to Ed Sheeran-No. 5 Collaborations Project [Review]

  • compo

    Excellent article and pretty much bang on with what I was hearing. The song with Mikill Pane is brilliant and is just above the tune with Devlin as the best on the EP for me. Not feeling the tune with Ghetts much at the moment but maybe its a grower. Overall is a great piece of work

  • Thanks, appreciate the feedback fella. Yup, a top quality EP, one where you’ll find your ‘favourite track’ from it changing on a week by week basis!

  • Great review Indi and a great EP.

    I just can’t get into Devlin, my main criticism is everything I’ve heard him over sounds forced and I question his versatility over different beats. He is undeniably a talented battle and punchline MC, but to be a true great he has to learn that he can’t attack everything at 100mph.

    But this Ed chap seems like a very talented guy and gotta rep East Anglia!

  • Cheers man, appreciated. We’ll be hearing a lot more from Ed this year, I’m sure.

    re: Devlin, yeah I see where you’re coming from, but I suppose that’s a criticism of the grime scene all over tbh, although having said that it’s changed over the last few years and a fair few artists have shown a lot of versatility, but then they get castigated for being too ‘hip hop’ when doing so. In fairness to Devs ‘Runaway’, ‘Our Father’ and ‘Community Outcast’ are probably as slow and introspective as you’ll get from him and it was great to hear those three on his album as it took a break from his normal 100mph flow!

  • ll

    A great album and you couldn’t have worded your article any better. i first heard about Ed when i come across his track ‘You need me’ (for SBTV) and knew he would be big. i listen to his music all the time and always play his tracks to family and friends to get his name out there, as he deserves it. a great singer/songwriter an dcan’t wait for more songs from him.

    Keep an eye out for Ledra Chapman who looks to be big in th efututre aswell

  • Thanks man. Yeah I’m really looking forward to what Ed cooks up for us this year. I’ve not heard of Ledra Chapman before but I will certainly be keeping tabs.

  • Great review mister Indi :)

  • James

    Isn’t the choris of the A-Team a complete rip off of a bob marley song?

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