Ed Sheeran recruited some of the biggest stars in the world for No. 6 Collaborations Project, but the record almost had yet another heavy-hitter. Stormzy, who collaborated with Sheeran for "Take Me Back to London," revealed on a recent episode of The Jonathan Ross Show that he personally stopped JAY-Z from appearing on the album.
"We were all in the studio writing; me, Ed Sheeran and Jay-Z," Stormzy said on the British talk show, Sky News reports. "Before that I loved 'Take Me Back to London' because I thought it was just going to be me and Ed and then Ed was like, Jay is getting on it.' It blew my mind. JAY-Z is my number one hero inspiration." Despite how much of a fan he is of Hov, Stormzy felt as though it wasn't the right moment for them to make a track together.
"We got into the studio and we were writing for this song and then he just stops the music and he said, 'Tell me about London, I need some inspiration,'" he continued. Stormzy said that him and his manager spoke to Jay about "everything from black culture, community, music, his journey, my journey." After around an hour of talking, Stormzy broke down how he felt. "I was like, 'I love this song but you being on it changes everything.'"
He added, "'Take Me Back To London' with me and Ed is one thing, but now that JAY-Z is on it... This is JAY-Z and Stormzy, what he means to culture, what I mean to culture... I said, 'Is this the song?' I didn't think it was the song." While he initially regretted the decision, due to his belief that he would never get the same chance again, he was taken aback by JAY-Z's gracious response. "I felt proper bad because I was like, 'You're saying no to JAY-Z!"
Stormzy described the experience as the "greatest story" of his life so far, and admitted that Jay "fully understood" his perspective. "We spoke and he made me feel [proud of what I did]," he said. "I left there thinking [I was an idiot] but then I had the honour of seeing him again and having the conversation and he let me know to my face that what I did [was courageous]. He couldn't believe that I did it."