thu 18/04/2024

CD: Ed Sheeran - + | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Ed Sheeran - +

CD: Ed Sheeran - +

Is the posh rap-strummer more than a novelty act?

Ed Sheeran: terrifyingly precocious

When I lived in Brighton in the mid-Nineties, a certain type was 10 a penny. Young, stoned, middle-class buskers, acoustic guitar strummers who were au fait with hip hop and able to improvise endless streams of witty wordplay and often to make human beatbox rhythms.

They tended to have an innate sense that what they were doing was a novelty act, though, and as if embarrassed about adopting the tropes of rap for their whimsical amusements they rarely pursued it as more than a cabaret act – although you can hear echoes of what they did in certain bands of the time such as Gomez.

Ed Sheeran is like a highly evolved version of those buskers. The terrifyingly precocious Suffolk 20-year-old is of a generation for whom liking hip hop can no longer be considered a cool affectation as it is so thoroughly woven into the fabric of UK youth culture, with British rappers regularly topping the charts. Thus he has adopted not only the fast lyrical flow but the furious ambition of the modern rapper, and has been gigging and hustling relentlessly since the age of 14 to get to the position he's now in.

Watch Ed Sheeran perform "You Need Me But I Don't Need You" on SBTV (and try not to cringe when he puts on a Jamaican accent at 4m 18s):

Sadly, the results are every bit as irritating as his precursors, without even the self-conscious admission that it's just a comedy act to mitigate its staggering smugness. There's no doubt that Sheeran is over-burdened with musical skill, but the whole thing smacks of being an exercise in demonstrating cleverness, a well-executed parlour game, his complete self-belief stripping it of anything so troubling as emotion or confusion. It is Radio 4 comedian music. It is also stripped of any of the guest spots from the bona fide rappers who helped him on his way to stardom and frequently made his records seem a lot more interesting than they really are. Shame, that. Still, he's young – maybe one day he will use his powers for good.


"When I lived in Brighton in the mid-Nineties" PLEASE RETURN THERE AND TAKE AN OVERDOSE.

He's from suffolk for gods sake. what does he know about rap

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