Ed Sheeran and Jay-Z are both critically acclaimed artists who have reached dizzying heights in their respective genres. However, Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) passed on the opportunity to collaborate with Sheeran for purely artistic reasons.
In 2017, Sheeran released the anthem and hit single, ‘Shape Of You’. However, upon presenting Carter with the opportunity to feature on the song, he “respectfully passed.” The single became five times platinum and broke records on streaming services as one of the most streamed tracks released by a British artist. Still, this didn’t phase the Brooklyn rapper, who could have reaped the rewards of its success.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, the British singer and songwriter revealed that he contacted Carter to see if he wanted to appear on the song. However, his decision may have been ill-judged.
Elaborating on their exchange, Sheeran explained, “We were in touch. I sent him the song, and he said, ‘I don’t think the song needs a rap verse.’ He was probably right. He’s got a very, very good ear. He usually gets things right. It was a very natural, respectful pass.”
The ‘Shivers’ vocalist divulged a lot concerning his career last year as he prepared to release his fifth studio album. Released in May last year, Subtract (stylised as –) was accompanied by a documentary about the singer’s rise to fame. In collaboration with Disney+, Ed Sheeran: The Sum of it All explored the act’s projects and revealed more about the musician’s creative process.
Sheeran collaborated heavily with Aaron Dessner of The National for his last project, which, in his words, explored “fear, depression and anxiety.” Furthermore, it was the “last in his decade-spanning mathematical album era.”
Few know that Sheeran made many appearances on the UK urban music YouTube channel SBTV before he became the megastar he is today. In the same Rolling Stone interview, the vocalist opened up about how the death of SBTV founder Jamal Edwards affected him.
Following Edwards’ passing, Sheeran revealed how he “felt like I didn’t want to live anymore. Those thoughts were bad enough, but shame arrived as their companion. They seemed selfish, especially as a father. I felt really embarrassed about it.”
You can listen to Sheeran’s ‘The Shape Of You’ in the video below.