Words By Matthew Spence
Ed Sheeran: the ginger fury himself. With a decade’s worth of longevity, platinum records, hit songs, Grammy Awards, tattoos, and lawsuits by Sami Chokri, the man is living the musician dream. Sure, he has haters and doubters, but what artist doesn’t? Even Chief Keef had people talk shit about him in the barbershops about how he ain’t bout this or that. However, Ed is a special case as he doesn’t just have any ordinary devoted fanbase. It’s not just high schoolers that listen to him with their sweetheart but hip-hop culture as well. Rappers love Ed Sheeran. Like seriously, I really wish I could explain it….so I’ll try my best. As a black nerd who just also happens to be a hip-hop geek… I needed to investigate this personally.
It’s extremely fascinating how much Ed is respected and revered in hip-hop. Kodak Blacks’ legacy will forever include the clip of him singing along to “Shape of You”. Ed’s forever a welcomed guest on Power 105.1s Breakfast Club like a close cousin. Collaborating with The Game, 50 Cent, Young Thug, Meek Mill, Lupe Fiasco (seriously), A Boogie wit da Hoodie, N.E.R.D., and fucking Eminem, multiple times. Collabs with hip-hop titans to constant public respect, Ed is what people say: “Invited to the cookout”, it begs the question: Why? Well, for starters. Ed is a hip-hop head. Being passionate about being a singing-songwriting Pop artist didn’t stop him from dabbling in rap music. For Starters, he’s rapped on his own music. There’s that.
In an interview with RapTV in 2012, he explained his debut by saying: “Pretty much, a blend of acoustic music and hip-hop/soul. I just put all of my influences in one big blender”. On that same project worked with legendary hip-hop producer NO I.D. In that same interview, listed off his favorite hip-hop artists: Big Pun, Eminem, Jay-Z, The Game, and Kendrick Lamar. Did he pass the vibe test with that list? I’ll let you decide. His favorite rap songs include 99 Problems by Jay-Z, Twinz 98 (Depp Cover) by Big Pun and Brendas Got a Baby by 2Pac.
Rick Rubin, Pharrell, Kenny Beats to his UK Peers Stormzy, his list of hip-hop affiliations is undeniably overwhelming but commendable. In a Breakfast Club Interview from 2021, Ed was asked about his love for the hip-hop community and expressed: “I’ve always listened to pop music, R&B, Afrobeats, that’s what I would choose to listen to so there’s an element of understanding and relating to it more than my peers would in my scene, especially in the UK scene”. Of course, he went on to clarify that he doesn’t claim he’s part of it, but he feels he understands it more than his peers’ respect and enjoys the culture but understands his place. In the same interview, he spits a verse from a Gang Starr track, love it.
Covering rap songs from various rappers from stating one of his favorite rap songs is a Big L freestyle from 1998, it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two. Whether you are a fan and bumping his album “X” as we speak or not, Ed comes off as a chill, likable, cool guy that has a chain personally handed to him by Mr. Big Homie Uncle Snoop Dogg. His passion for music as a whole is valid overall. Regarding hip-hop, it’s beyond just listening but appreciating the art form and culture and that’s what anyone can ask for.