Ever since "Shape of You," with its amorphous, vaguely tropical post-genre construction, Ed Sheeran has become the British answer to Drake — a talented artist and trendspotter who nabs radio play by forming his music into the waves of the moment. He's the reply guy of pop music, for better or worse.
Fortunately, his latest attempt at radio conquest, "Cross Me," is a good, if merely serviceable, G-funky song of the summer contender — a proposition that sounds a lot more thrilling than "Ed Sheeran goes full mainstream rap" would suggest. (Speaking of G-funk, YG's also dropped a new album today.)
The hook relies on a sample of Philadelphia rapper PnB Rock's 2017 XXL Freestyle, a delightfully melodic thing that, honestly, he's done better on his own. The whole thing is produced by Fred Gibson, a bloke who has worked with BTS, Rita Ora and Brian Eno (!?). Even though Sheeran gets top billing here, Chance the Rapper is probably its real star, dropping by to deliver a verse at his most animated, rapping about kung fu and CrossFit in defense of the most important woman in his life.
It's the second single from Ed Sheeran's newly announced No. 6 Collaborations Project, which, if you follow Sheeran lore, is a sequel to an EP he made earlier in 2011 called No. 5 Collaborations Project which featured a fair bit of U.K. grime rappers, including Wiley. If that was a one-off of a then-folkie who knows his way around a good link-up, this latest project looks to be Sheeran coming for DJ Khaled's throne.