Ed Sheeran's new album, No. 6 Collaborations Project, was released on Friday
It may sound hard to keep up with, but singer-songwriter Sheeran, 28, remembers working with each artist, as he recounted to radio host iHeartRadio’s Charlamagne Tha God in a 50-minute video posted to Sheeran’s YouTube page.
“It was so much fun to make and it was all the artists I wanted to work with,” Sheeran told Charlamagne in the video.
Here’s what he said about collaborating with everyone on the new album, which was released Friday.
Bruno Mars and Chris Stapleton, “Blow”
“I think people do not expect that,” Sheeran said of making a hard rock song with Bruno Mars, another pop star. But Sheeran explained that the song’s rock twist came from working with country singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton.
“It was purely by accident with having Chris Stapleton, and he just seemed the most interesting,” Sheeran said. “Chris was there and he played us the riff … and then we were like ‘Oh, let’s write a song about that.'”
Sheeran told Charlamagne he’s learned a lot from Mars, 33, over his career, since meeting the performer in 2010.
“He’s just a talented writer,” Sheeran said. “And he’s so musically talented, he’s played every instrument on that. Played the drums, played the bass, played the guitar. He’s like, different level in the studio.”
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Camila Cabello and Cardi B, “South of the Border”
Sheeran said he’s “always wanted to make a song with Cardi B.”
“Just personality-wise, even if you just had her just talking on a song,” he told Charlamagne. “[My wife] Cherry’s obsessed with her — she’s just, I’ve got to meet her a few times, she’s very animated, very lovely.”
Later, Sheeran explained that he appreciates how Cardi, 26, says what’s on her mind, which he feels like he gets to do as well.
“I love how unfiltered she is,” he said. “She’s so media trained not to be media trained. Like her whole shtick is she goes on and says whatever she wants and that is what works for her. … She’s successful because she is who she is; there’s no one else that could be Cardi B.”
He paired Cardi with Camila Cabello on the song to give it a “Latin” sound, since Cardi is Dominican and Cabello, 22, is Cuban.
“I met Camila in 2013 at the VMAs when she was with Fifth Harmony,” Sheeran remembered. “We’ve kind of always kept in touch, and she’s, I don’t know if you’ve met her but she’s very, very sweet, very, very nice.”
Chance the Rapper and PnB Rock, “Cross Me”
Sheeran said his song with Chance the Rapper, which features a sample from PnB Rock, is about how you treat a woman you love, something he said Chance understood.
“You can’t teach that level of respect,” he said of Chance, who married wife Kirsten Corley in March. “He was obviously brought up with a very, very strong loving mother.”
Stormzy, “Take Me Back to London”
Rappers from the U.K., like Stormzy, were some of Sheeran’s first musical influences, and part of his inspiration to collaborate on music in the first place.
We’ve kind of been friends for a very very long time but never really worked together,” Sheeran said of Stormzy, 25, who once made a remix of “Shape of You.” “Everything happens for a reason and I feel like this happened for a reason.”
YEBBA, “Best Part of Me”
Charlamagne told Sheeran that gospel singer YEBBA “bodied” him on “Best Part of Me.”
“I don’t want to have a feature that isn’t amazing,” Sheeran said. “If that had someone that it didn’t complement it, I don’t know. I feel like it, if you have a song that you think’s good and you put someone on it that you think’s amazing, it instantly makes the song incredible.”
YEBBA, born Abbey Smith, opened for Sheeran on tour in 2017.
“We’ve always had a really cool relationship,” he said. “There’s no one that doesn’t get her. It’s so easy to get, it’s just like, wow, she’s incredibly talented.”
They began working on the song separately, even though it was a personal process.
“I said if you’re going to write a verse, just make sure that each line is uncomfortable for you to write. That you’re like, ‘oh God, should I be telling people this?'” Sheeran said he told YEBBA. “That’s the kind of vibe I wanted to have.”
Eventually, though, they had to get together to record the intimate song, since “it’s a song like that you can’t really make remotely. You have to be in the same room.”
Sheeran already worked with his longtime hero Eminem once, featuring on “River” off the rapper’s 2017 album Revival.
“In my mind, I was like it’s always going to happen, I’ve just got to wait,” Sheeran said. “I was able to sit down with him in Detroit and approach him with the song [“Remember the Name”], and it didn’t feel weird.”
As he worked on the song, Sheeran told Charlamagne he realized 50 Cent would also fit well, because “the hook that I wrote was so 50 Cent.”
“At the end of the verse, I said, ‘I want way more than I’ve already got, give me a song with Eminem and 50 Cent,'” he said. “And I walked in Eminem’s dressing room, and it’s him and 50 Cent in there. And I was like, ‘This has to be, has to be meant to be.’ They were quite weird about it, because I was like, ‘Do you believe in fate?’
When Sheeran was growing up, he said he related to Eminem, 46, as “a bit of an outcast,” but he continues to relate to the rapper today.
“Even now, like the way that we’ve both stuck in our hometowns,” Sheeran said of Eminem, who’s from Detroit. “I’m kind of looking at the way he does things and being like, That’s how I should do it when I’m like — because he’s got kids and stuff, and he’s a very, very good father, and he’s there the whole time, and my greatest fear is not raising my kids because I’m on tour.”
“If you could have told 12-year-old me I would rap on a song with Eminem when I was older — like you know, so many people say that I can’t rap, but I’m allowed on a song with Eminem and 50 Cent rapping,” Sheeran added. “So why does it matter?”
Justin Bieber, “I Don’t Care”
Sheeran’s wife, Cherry — whom he confirmed his marriage to on the album — suggested pop star Justin Bieber for “I Don’t Care.”
Sheeran recalled meeting Bieber, 25, at a Z100 radio event. “He came up and said, ‘Oh, I’m a big fan,’ and I was like, ‘Wow, have you heard my music?'”
“I want to work with Bieber!” Sheeran said. “He’s got one of these voices that just works on anything. And he’s got personality when he sings.”
Travis Scott, “Antisocial”
Sheeran picked rapper Travis Scott for his song about social anxiety because he said Scott, 29, can relate.
“We were talking about it, and I think he’s very lucky with you know, the girl that he’s with [Kylie Jenner], he says that they have … their little circle,” Sheeran said.
“He struck me as someone that I had a lot in common with basically,” he continued. “He doesn’t seem to me to be the type of person that’s chasing fame. I think it’s all the better himself as an artist.”
Khalid, “Beautiful People”
To Sheeran, R&B singer Khalid had the right style for “Beautiful People.”
“His voice is so crisp and warm and soulful,” Sheeran said. “He sings in a very unique way. But that song for me is warmth, it just feels cozy, and I know it sounds weird to say his voice is cozy as well, but that was like my initial thing.”
H.E.R., “I Don’t Want Your Money”
“I really liked her album, I became a fan of her from there,” Sheeran said of R&B singer H.E.R. “When I found out she was a fan of me, I then asked her to be on this, because you can’t ever assume that people just want to do records with you.”
Meek Mill and A Boogie wit da Hoodie, “A Thousand Nights”
Sheeran’s decision to put rapper Meek Mill on “A Thousand Nights” came from the song’s beat.
“Meek actually said it when I played it to him, he was like, ‘You know my tempo,'” Sheeran said. “And for me it just sounded like a Meek song.”
But the song “just seemed too short,” he said. “I’d just bought [A Boogie wit da Hoodie’s album] Hoodie SZN and I thought I’d reach out to him.”
Ella Mai, “Put It All on Me”
Sheeran said he was shocked to find out Ella Mai was from South London after hearing her 2018 breakout single, “Boo’d Up.”
“So I was intrigued by her,” Sheeran said. “When we were making that song, I remember we were saying, ‘What girl, what girl do we know that we could go on this?’ And me and Fred, who made the tune, we were both like, ‘We should get Ella Mai.'”
“The way that she sings and the riffs that she does, she’ll go hard then soft then hard then soft in her vocal tones. It’s kind of operatic,” Sheeran continued. “It’s a very different way of singing.”
Young Thug and J Hus, “Feels”
Sheeran “didn’t really get” rapper Young Thug’s music at first, he said. Then, he got into his 2016 mixtape JEFFERY.
“He’s got a tone that is, sometimes you really don’t understand what he’s saying, but kind of like the way that he does it is just musical,” Sheeran said. “So I was always very intrigued to work with him.”
Unlike many of the other artists featured on No. 6 Collaborations Project, though, Sheeran said he’s never met Young Thug, 27. “I hope I get to,” he added.
Unlike Young Thug, though, Sheeran has always enjoyed English rapper J Hus’ music.
“There’s not really anyone like him in the U.K. industry,” Sheeran said. “He’s so in his own lane.”
Skrillex, “Way to Break My Heart”
Sheeran said he’s performed with Skrillex before, so he had a “great” story about the producer.
“He came to Chicago, to work on a track. Afterwards he was like, ‘Let’s go out to a bar,'” Sheeran explained. “So just me and him and my touring crew went out to this bar, and he was like, ‘F— man, this bar sucks, like the music’s just not.'”
“He was like, ‘I’ve got my laptop in my bag, should I just do a set?'” Sheeran continued. “They were like, okay, so Skrillex got up in this like bar in the middle of f—ing nowhere in Chicago and just did a three-hour set for anyone in the bar. And they just locked the doors and just kept everyone in. It was amazing.”
Paulo Londra and Dave, “Nothing on You”
Ed Sheeran said he’s respected English rapper Dave for a while, and the two once did an interview together for the British “Love Music Hate Racism” campaign.
“I kind of like talking to, they say up and coming people, but I love the kind of new wave coming through,” Sheeran said of the musician. “It was one of those things like, I’m putting the project together, it would just feel like a bit of a shame not to have him on it. so I’m glad we could make it work.”
“The other artist is a guy from Argentina that I’ve recently become a fan of called Paulo Londra,” Sheeran explained. “We got him on, I really like him.”