Ed Sheeran recruited a bunch of huge guests for his recent album, No. 6 Collaborations Project. Jay-Z does not appear on the album, although he was initially set to join Sheeran and Stormzy on “Take Me Back To London.” Very few musicians would want to turn down the opportunity to collaborate with Jay-Z, but in this case, Stormzy felt like it was the right thing to do, so he told Jay-Z that he didn’t think he should be on the song.
In an interview on The Jonathan Ross Show, Stormzy explained what happened (as Sky News notes), saying, “We were all in the studio writing: me, Ed Sheeran, and Jay-Z. Before that, I loved ‘Take Me Back To London’ because I thought it was just going to be me and Ed, and then Ed was like, ‘Jay is getting on it.’ It blew my mind. Jay-Z is my number one hero inspiration. We got into the studio and we were writing for this song and then he just stops the music and he said, ‘Tell me about London, I need some inspiration.'”
Then, Stormzy, his manager, and Jay had “this powerful, beautiful, greatest conversation of my entire life,” about “everything from black culture, community, music, his journey, my journey.”
“I was like, ‘I love this song, but you being on the song changes everything.’ ‘Take Me Back To London’ with me and Ed is one thing, but now that Jay-Z is on it… This is Jay-Z and Stormzy, what he means to culture, what I mean to culture… I said, ‘Is this the song?’ I didn’t think it was the song.”
Stormzy continued, “I was like, ‘I know how it goes, Mr. Z. You are the most brilliant, busy man, and I will probably never get this opportunity ever again, but hand on my heart, I don’t think this is the right song for us.”
Jay-Z apparently took the news well, though, and came away from the situation with respect for Stormzy’s decision: “We spoke and he made me feel [proud of what I did]. I left there thinking [I was an idiot], but then I had the honor of seeing him again and having the conversation, and he let me know to my face that what I did [was courageous]. He couldn’t believe that I did it.”
Meanwhile, Stormzy recently announced a 2020 tour in support of his upcoming album, Heavy Is The Head.
Some artists mentioned are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music.