There are thousands of versions of Ed Sheeran's You Need : acoustic, EP, live, with Wretch 32 & Devlin not to mention all the remixes. But the version that got into the Radio 1 playlist is the album version so that's the one I'm reviewing.
It's a speedy, up to date grime track made using only a mic, guitar and loop pedal. Simple yet effective. Some bass and a beat have been added for the single but it's Ed's rapping, Ed's guitar playing, Ed's beatboxing, Ed's lyrics, Ed's song. And because he does pretty much all of it he can ensure that the instrumental complements his rapping but that his vocals are still the main focus (not hiding behind big productions like Pro Green).
I mean you wouldn't want to miss these lyrics. I don't think there's one line on this song that isn't just amazing. Most rappers would be happy with just four bars of this song but he just crams them all into one. My favourite line? "They say I'm up and coming like I'm f*cking in an elevator."
And it's the way he performs them as well; half rapping, half singing. Now I think I can do a decent cover version of Young Guns (which he features on) in which he raps very quickly but I'm awful at singing The A Team because I can't hold a tune in a bucket. And when I rap along to You Need Me I find that it all goes flat simply because Ed spits his lyrics in such a soulful way that one of the greatest rappers in the world couldn't pull off if they were no good at singing (yes I'm looking at you Jay-Z).
Ed Sheeran is a fantastic new artist with potential in the hip-hop, acoustic, folk and songwriting worlds alike. 2011 has already been a massive year for him and it's just going to get better with the release of his album +.