"I'm not a rapper, I'm a singer with the flow," spits Ed Sheeran at the beginning of his new track "Take It Back," off of his upcoming record X. Well, you could have fooled us, Ed.
Sheeran goes full-on autobiographical on the blazing-fast rap track, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. The jam deftly, and wryly, tells the genesis of his career -- and how he took his hard knocks experiences and stayed grounded and true to himself and his fans.
A Bildungsroman of a song, Ed raps about plunging into the music world at a young age ("At 16 years old I moved out of my home"), kissing and not-quite telling ("Would it hurt your reputation if I put it on wax?"), and the media ("I've never had an enemy, except the NME/ But I'll be selling twice as many copies as the magazine will ever be"). The gloves come off, but Ed remains a gentleman, hitting hard but never naming names with lines like:
"I went from sleeping at a subway station to sleeping with a movie star."
Excuse me? Okay, now we want names.
"Take It Back" is a bit less love-panged than his previous songs -- a bit harder -- but he tempers it all with his trademark bashful, self-aware, wry humor. Example? "I don't ever want to be perfect because I'm a singer that you never wanna see shirtless/ And I accept that someone's gotta win 'worst-dressed.'"
"Take It Back" is just one in a series of four songs Sheeran's premiering exclusively with MTV before his sophomore album X -- the recording and promotions of which he documented in his MTV special, "Nine Days And Nights Of Ed Sheeran" -- drops Monday, June 23. We'll be dropping "I'm a mess" on Sunday, June 22, so visit EdSheeran.MTV.com tomorrow to see what else Ed has to sing -- or spit.