Unapologetically, this album would be better if Ed Sheeran wasn’t on it. How this album ever came to be, or why it ever came to be is beyond me.
You wouldn’t miss the liner notes if it said instead 1000 Nights by Meek Mill feat. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Ed Sheeran, and not the other way round. Nor would you raise an eyebrow at Camila Cabello and Cardi B on a track together. It makes sense.
We fantasise about the sort of dream collaborations that appear here on No. 6 Collaboration Project. Yet in some plush studio somewhere in middle England, Ed Sheeran has somehow pulled everyone together, old heads, new kids, Skrillex, Young Thug, and made a record – and a good one at that.
Ed Sheeran, with that crooked smile, mess of cotton candy hair and kaleidoscope of tattoos, has squeezed the absolute very best out of every feature here.
‘Antisocial’ sounds like the logical progression of “Sicko Mode.” It’s like Travis Scott says himself, “who put this shit together? I’m the glue”.
However, and there has to be a however, ‘Blow’ sounds like Rage Against the Machine performed by an amateur musical theatre troupe. And ‘Remember the Name’, which pairs 50 Cent and Eminem together for the first time in years, hits more like a parody of Slim Shady paid for by an insurance company.
Ed is like Drake hanging around the bench on game day. But like Stevie in the mid-’90s, he’s got some tricks too. “You never live ’til you risk your life//You wanna shine, you gotta get more ice”, raps Cardi B on South of the Border. Ed is earning his stripes in a new territory.
The production value – incredible; the verses – mind-bending. Each song a pastiche of the very best of each artist, their signature sounds amplified.
And so without Ed, this album wouldn’t be the masterpiece it is. He is simply too big to fail, as was the bonus likely paid to whoever made this happen.
Reviewed by Darby-Perrin Larner