9 Jan



Ever heard the one about the kid from Norfolk, his guitar and the independent project that’s seen him work with Grime heavyweights such as Wiley, JME, Ghetts and P Money, no? Then read on.

As journalists spend this time of year rummaging through old e-mails and press releases for their sounds of 2011 before settling on a list that is either completely risk averse or alarmingly out dated, you can be sure the more alert will have highlighted singer/songwriter and Bangers and Smash favourite, Ed Sheeran. List or no list Ed’s No.5 Collaborations Project looks set to kick start a breakthrough year for an act that has the potential to cross the genre boundaries that have so often stifled a career.

Having built a loyal following through supports slots with folk wordsmiths Nizlopi, perhaps Ed’s biggest and most surprising break came last year courtesy of his one man performance of ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’ for SB.TV. Having now gained over 500,000 views on Youtube and made a White, Ginger haired kid from Norfolk an unlikely hero in the unforgiving Grime scene, it is this clip that has made a collaboration project with some of Grime’s most legendary figures possible. Speaking to the BBC this month Ed confirmed, “When the SB.TV video went up all the rappers that I had in mind that I would never have been able to get in contact with, got in contact with me. I made a track for each one I wanted to work with, that would suit them.” Soon Ed was touring as a support act on Example’s tour and could be seen back stage going bar for bar with arguably the UK’s finest lyricist, Devlin.

It is this vocal sparring that kicks off the project with Devlin lending his support to his tour mate on ‘Lately’. With most of the project seemingly focused on Ed bringing the best out of other artists, it’s refreshing to see Ed working on a more lyrical collaboration on this. With both seemingly set for a prosperous 2011, ‘Lately’ perfectly tackles the struggle with their careers to date and the issues they will continue to wrestle with as part of the music industry. In an album that is almost excessively non indulgent this vocal sparring with Devlin is the clearest sign of Ed’s own lyrical ability on a duet that would so easily have swallowed less capable artists.

If ‘Lately’ is concerned with Ed and Devlin’s struggles in the music industry, then the second collaboration with Wiley on ‘You’, offers the perfect counterpoint as Wiley is given the opportunity to express his feelings towards his Mum/Nan. This track perhaps offers the clearest insight into what this project’s main purpose is – to use Ed’s blissful tones and musical ability to give some of Grime’s biggest acts a platform to tap into their emotions clear of any ‘hype’ associated with the scene. With Wiley fast becoming a man most known for his numerous twitter rants and just as numerous personalities, ‘You’ acts as a timely reminder of just how powerful Wiley can be when he’s focused and knowledgable on his subject.

Continuing on the personal note, Ed teams up with P Money for the first single to drop from the project – ‘Family’. Chronicling P Money’s car crash in 2010 Ed’s haunting chorus strings together typically powerful versus from an MC more renowned for his underground dub/grime tracks than his storytelling ability. With P’s recent success coming in dub infused bangers such as HO Riddim, Sweet Shop and Slang Like This it’s refreshing to hear him go back to a level of personal story telling that was last seen on tracks such as ‘Jezebel’ on ‘Coins to

After two duets of such emotional weight Ed ups the tempo with ‘Radio’ and JME, getting across the time old dilemma of struggling to make music you love without having to sell out for a few spins on Radio. JME’s refreshing urge to stick to the music he loves despite all the attributes to appeal to the mainstream is reflected perfectly with his own bars interspersed with Ed’s unshakeable chorus, ironically crafted to be as immovable from your consciousness as anything in the top 20.

Having bought in some of Grimes biggest names on his first four collaborations , Ed takes time to bring in friend and rising star Mikill Pane on board to remix Ed’s most notable single release ‘A Team’ under the new banner ‘Little Lady’. Pane proceeds to bring a disturbing narrative to life in the way Plan B was renowned for in his early career. Possibly the easiest listening domestic abuse song you will ever hear, profound and listenable, this is nothing short of brilliant from two supremely talented storytellers.

A collaboration with Grimes top dogs would not be complete without an appearance from Ghetts and that’s exactly what we get on next track, ‘Drown Me Out’. Taking Ghetts’ perfect delivery and aggressive tone, Ed’s backing and chorus ironically stops Ghetts’ verses from being drowned out by his legendary delivery, the result – a euphoric anthem reminiscent of Ghetts’ old material.

Not content with single features, Ed expands the project with ‘Nightmares’ featuring king of the refix – Random Impulse, UK Hip Hop legend – Sway and BBC Sound of 2011 shortlisted – Wretch 32. With each artist at different stages of their career and with contrasting sounds what ‘Nightmares’ so vividly shows is Ed’s ability as a singer song writer to cross boundaries.

Finishing the project Ed brings in Dot Rotten for possibly the most emotive song of what is a project already packed with feeling. Similarly to Wiley on ‘You’, Dot runs through his issues at home before Ed comes in with his longest and most uplifting chorus of the project, vital in giving Dot’s verses a broader appeal. A great feature for Dot who has showed with events such as 1xtra’s soundclash he has the ability to not only further his own career but also push the Grime scene on.

To end what this project has done in eight tracks is a remarkable achievement with Ed’s singer/songwriting skills acting as the perfect foil in letting some of Grimes most notorious MCs bare their souls.Currently sitting at no6 in the iTunes album chart, what started as a collaborations project looks like being a turning point not only in Ed’s career but hopefully opening a whole new audience to the home grown ability of some of Grime’s legends and best kept secrets. Download from iTunes now!




  1. Tweets that mention ED SHEERAN – NO 5 COLLABORATION PROJECT – REVIEW/DOWNLOAD « BANGERS AND SMASH -- Topsy.com - January 9, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Carl Martin, Dave Johnstone, Dave Johnstone, Dave Johnstone and others. Dave Johnstone said: @Edsheeran Review now up mate, Hope you enjoy it http://bit.ly/fXUQ34 . let me know what you think. […]

  2. Ed Sheeran – No. 5 Collaboration Project EP « Purple Regime - January 9, 2011

    […] REVIEW by B&M […]

  3. why Ed Sheeran is better remixed « myfifteenminutesstartedanhourago - October 23, 2011

    […] you search back through his mixtapes, particularly the No. 5 Collaborations Project, that he has several collaborations with grime artists including Wiley, JME, Ghetts and many more. […]

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