The story behind Ed Sheeran’s contribution to Eminem’s upcoming Revival album is likely as random as any other story involving Sheeran. It happened across at least two different continents, and to hear Sheeran tell it, originally began some 18 months ago.
“I was traveling Australia, and Russell Crowe has this big house,” Sheeran revealed to Billboard at iHeartRadio’s Z100 Jingle Ball in New York. “I got an email from Paul Rosenberg—Eminem’s manager—and he says, ‘We’re gonna start putting the album together. Send in any ideas.’”
You can catch the Eminem highlights at the 29-second mark of the video above. Like many of Em’s fans/collaborators, Sheeran says he already had some material on deck if the opportunity presented itself. He originally wrote, sang and played drums, piano and guitar on the track that would eventually become “River.” Then he never heard anything else about the proposed collaboration for over a year until he ran into Emile Haynie, who was also working on Revival.
“My mate Emile, who produces a lot for Eminem is like, ‘Oh, I’ve done some drums and stuff on the “River” song that you wrote,’” Sheeran said. “I was like, ‘Oh, cool. Are you gonna send it to him?’”
And that would be when Sheeran found out Eminem had already laid a couple verses on the track. He and Haynie eventually sonically tweaked some things, and Sheeran physically met Eminem after the collaboration was already finished.
So if you’re wondering, all it takes to get a track placed on an Eminem album is access to Em’s manager and producer. It also doesn’t hurt if you can sing, play piano, drums and guitar. Being able to lay down your vocals and instrumentation in Russell Crowe’s farm with an adjoining recording studio is just a nice bonus.