No. 6 Collaborations Project review: Ed Sheeran's ambitious, star-studded album fails to hit the mark
No. 6 Collaborations Project is the fourth studio album by British musician Ed Sheeran.
Ed Sheeran is one of the most popular figures of today's pop music. After all, he is the most followed artist on Spotify, has a couple of bestselling albums, and plays a pivotal role in Danny Boyle's film Yesterday. Now he brings to his listeners the ambitious No. 6 Collaborations Project that spans across different genres. Whether it is hip hop you want or latin pop, Sheeran has got it covered. It is a follow-up of his 2011 EP No. 5 Collaborations Project, with grime artists Wiley, Devlin and JME, released before he was signed by Asylum Records.
On the surface, the album may seem like Sheeran's passion project but it comes across more like a promotional one that aims to circulate his music to a larger demographic of listeners and pushes the idea of him being this Jack of all genres. With so much going on in one album, it ends up feeling close to an algorithm generated playlist or DJ Khaled's cringe-worthy Father of Asahd.
Sheeran has always put forth his image as a misfit in the music industry and that is one of the themes in No. 6 as well, in 'I Don't Care' with Justin Bieber, about feeling socially anxious and isolated at a party, so much so that he wants to go back into the arms of his "baby." Khalid is a part of 'Beautiful People', which is about staying true to yourself and not getting swayed by material possessions. "We don't fit in well because we are just ourselves," sings Sheeran here.
In 'Take Me Back to London', he sing-raps with London rapper Stormzy about homesickness after being on the road for a long time. The snappy tune teamed up with a topic so personal is the album's highlight. However, the theme repeats itself in 'I Don't Want Your Money', featuring H.E.R and Ella Mai's 'Put It All On Me.'
Sheeran has a soft spot for rap, evident in hits like 'Shape of You', 'Sing' and Taylor Swift's 'End Game'. He takes things to the next level, bringing his childhood hip hop heroes Eminem and 50 Cent together on 'Remember the Name.' Eminem re-does his Slim Shady impression while 50 Cent's bars are completely forgettable. 'Antisocial' is in contrast to the misfit theme, a party song, a radio-friendly, cuss-free reiteration of Travis Scott's work. This record also includes some forgettable contributions from Chance the Rapper, PnB Rock, Young Thug and J Hug, Meek Mills, and A Boogie wit da Hoodie.
Sheeran tries to bring out the sexy in him as he duets with Camila Cabello in 'South of the Border', until Cardi B's verse causes an unpleasant disruption. 'Best Part of Me' with Yebba is just discount 'Thinking Out Loud', but her vocals definitely stand out. No. 6 comes to a close with Bruno Mars and Chris Stapleton's glam metal-inspired 'Blow,' that sounds nothing more than a couple of teenagers jamming in a garage.
The album will surely pave its way up on the charts till it is replaced by another generic pop album just as quickly. No.6 seems to be a work of haste as the songwriting is not authentic enough neither is the chemistry between Sheeran and his fellow artists. If given a choice, would I listen to the album again? With the exception of 'South of the Border' and 'Take Me Back to London,' most definitely not. It may be harsh to admit this, but Sheeran may have finally peaked. Sorry, Ed.
Listen to the album here.
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