Review Summary: No.
The most interesting part of No.6 Collaborations Project
is how uninteresting it is. Yes, the tracklist for Edward Christopher Sheeran’s latest album looks like a buffet of artists that have been lighting up the charts for the past few years; and like any plate at an Old Country Buffet, the low-quality food smears together into an amorphous blob. The cheap fried rice goes with macaroni & cheese and ketchup in so much as they all go in the same hole and out another. NOW That’s What I Call Shi
t! That metaphor was pretty painful to type, but Mr. Sheeran’s latest album truly is all the fun of moving a large dresser out of your apartment: the most amusing part is figuring how to best drag it out.
Admittedly, I have never been a fan of Ed’s sheeranigans, but I gained a bit of respect after having seen him live last year where he filled out Soldier Field with nothing other than his voice, his guitar, and a loop pedal. None of that talent is on display here, as Ed seems to call to collect upon every favor owed to him by industry pals. It’s a race to the bottom with every single one of them offering an approximation of what made them famous, with none of the personality. There’s a lot of groping in the dark and grasping at straws here in what looks to be another chart-topping success from England’s Favorite Son.
Did you like “Shape of You”? Well, you get to hear Camila Cabello and Cardi B precede their respective sophomore slumps with “South of the Border”, a song that so shamelessly rips off Ed’s biggest hit yet that it may as well have been titled “Outline of You”. American Idol gets a song for its rocker contestants in the absolute misfire that is “Blow”, which sounds like a nice companion to Justin Timberlake’s ode to deer and flannel that came out last year. Urban Outfitters-incarnate Khalid shows up to once again remind you that the word “beautiful” exists with the opener “Beautiful People”. Eminem takes a break from giving abortions in porsches with his latest attempt at dilluting his legacy with another horrible verse on the ironically forgettable “Remember the Name”, which also features another former has-been in 50 Cent and this little gem of a line:
Without a doubt, by any means, if rap was skinny jeans
I couldn't do anything in 'em
I'd be splitting seams of denim when I'm spitting schemes
Which really means, no "if," "ands," or “buts” are squeezin' in between
Unsurprisingly, the album’s best moments are when his collaborators are allowed to do their own thing and have little to do with Sheeran. Skrillex continues to be one of the best mainstream producers on “Way to Break My Heart”, Ella Mai and H.E.R. pump out joyful little RnB diddies on their respective tracks, and Stormzy sounds comfortably at home on the straight-up grime “Take Me Back to London”. I guess Travis Scott sounds alright with all of his robotic yeah’s on “Antisocial” too, but, given Ed’s helplessly white contributions, is anyone gonna throw ass to that?
And really, that’s pretty much all there is to say about No.6 Collaborations Project
. Everything pretty much goes how you would expect with a mainstream pop album in 2019, only watered down and bad. There’s a little bit of trap, a little bit of rnb, a little bit of tropical house, a little bit of guitar, and they all go exactly how you would expect. There’s a lot of talk about sex and love and betrayal and adventures, and I believe precisely none of it. It’s all just pop music ad-libs in the worst way. The only time I am convinced of what I am being told is true is on the chorus of “I Don’t Care” where Justin Bieber joins in with Ed to say that they both, in fact, do not care. If you ever needed proof that gingers don’t have souls, there is No.6 Collaborations Project