Thursday, July 14th, 2022

Ed Sheeran ft. Lil Baby – 2Step

He’s only the band Daniel Bedingfield could have been…


Edward Okulicz: This is surprisingly fun and inoffensive. But it could be better. In fact, most Sheeran songs could be made better if you just cut their choruses in half and kept the first bit, as if just eating one of the two Twix bars — it’s a sensory-specific satiety thing. 

Andrew Karpan: Some remixes try to insist on a fictional pop intimacy — Ariana’s throwaway lines on one of Lizzo’s post-breakout hits come to mind. But not honest Ed, who enlisted no fewer than 13 rappers, singer-songwriter acts, and even a Ukrainian pop rock band in a fascinating effort to get some juice from this slinky, noxious shuffle on his last album, a longplayer most remembered for being the one with “Bad Habits” on it. This perhaps means that Lil Baby, a rapper who’s ubiquity I find strangely comforting, isn’t given very much room to cook. His bars sound unnaturally sped up to fit in the allotted section of the record; the pointlessness of spending money to make money.

Scott Mildenhall: After the standard half-rhymes and half-raps, it’s jarring when Lil Baby comes in at double the speed, but then nothing is more Sheeran than an adornment of purely industrial purpose. This is A Serious One, because it sounds a bit moody; everything else being the crumbs that stuck to that ball as he rolled it around. “Seein’ through a picture behind a screen and forget to be / Lose the conversation for the message that you’ll never read” — it could be beat poetry, or just a first draft he felt no need to change. Still, it’s less glaringly sloppy than many a Sheeran effort, even if it’s somehow more forgettable.

Nortey Dowuona: The only real difference between Ed Sheeran and Drake is that Ed is white. That is a very specific difference, but it also allows Drake a closeness to every community he co-opts then abandons that Ed — who wisely and savvily plugged in and worked with the SBTV community from his small-time busking days — just cannot have. Because it’s not like he continued working with that community once it was of no use to him, and now he’s named a song “2Step” without contacting, say, EL-B or even MJ Cole. Tagging on a clearly disinterested but competent Lil Baby verse shows where his true priorities lie. Still, the stop before Ed begins singing “all — night, 2stepping with the woman I love” hits like a sledgehammer almost immediately the first time it happens and hits even harder on the second and third. It shows that while he has no loyalty to the communities he’s a part of, he still feels some sort of loyalty to his listenership, enough to provide them with a new sonic experience on which to carry his rather plain songwriting, with a far more subtly powerful delivery in the chorus. It’s a display of nuance and taste, something Drake has proven he has neither of over the last seven years.

Katie Gill: Honestly the most interesting thing about this song is that little disclaimer at the start of the video saying that it was filmed in Kyiv (or at least, Ed Sheeran’s bits were filmed in Kyiv. Lil Baby’s bits were obviously filmed on a soundstage back in California, I have never seen a more greenscreened city, those two artists were never in the same damn room). That adds a WHOLE BUNCH OF NEW IDEAS that this absolutely mediocre Ed Sheeran song that sounds like every other damn Ed Sheeran song doesn’t deserve. Like, this song is the fifth single off the album and you can TELL.

Ian Mathers: Of course, the way you get big enough to have CGI credits at the start of your video is not by making anything distinctive (and thus potentially divisive) enough to be particularly memorable, let alone moving. The worst thing is that it’s not bad. It’s easy to imagine having it come on the radio and shrugging instead of changing the dial (unless you have some specific antipathy for Sheeran or his voice, which, fair enough). So unremarkable that its only real distinction will be at least a few years from now, when it starts sounding dated to this particular moment.

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