gal-dem: Is Ed Sheeran platforming POC artists, or is he piggybacking off them?

Sorry, but Ed Sheeran singing about whinin’ and bracin’ feels off to us.

To anyone who may need a break from hearing Ed Sheeran every day for the past 13 years on the radio, in every supermarket, corner shop, or blaring from their neighbour’s window, good luck.

Last year, he sang on three of the UK’s top five singles of 2022. In May, he’s gearing up his fifth album, ‘-‘ (SUBTRACT), which’ll see Ed in his acoustic comfort zone. But we’re interested his recent string of collaborative work, which has earned him some of his highest charting hits. Since his acoustic 2011 hit ‘The A-Team’, Ed has put his print over genres that range from pop, Irish folk, rap, Afrobeats, reggeaton, and now he’s adding dancehall to the list.

In April, he’ll be releasing a single and music video with Jamaican dancehall star Ishawna, a track that dropped last year. ‘Brace It’ starts with a simple guitar lick looped onto a dancehall rhythm, with Ishawna repeating “Mi good up / Boy come whine pon mi good up” – so far, so good. But then Sheeran comes in with “Girl I’ll brace on yuh good up” then “lemme whine on your body”, “I nah go, I nah go, I nah go leave you never”. His use of Patois on the track feels jarring to say the least.

Patois, a form of Creole, is spoken throughout the Caribbean and has different varieties depending on the country it’s spoken in. English-spoken creole is a mixture of English and West African languages, which can also have influences from Spanish, French, Dutch, South Asian languages, Mandarin and Arabic, depending on each country’s colonial history. It’s a vibrant, energetic and lyrical way of speaking that was once commonly (and still sometimes is) undermined as “broken English” and continues to be the subject of linguistic discrimination to this day.

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