Ed Sheeran and Stormzy’s 2019 collab, “Take Me Back to London,” could have featured a guest appearance from none other than Jay-Z but the grime rapper turned down the verse from the hip-hop legend.
Stormzy revealed the backstory behind rejecting his “No. 1 hero inspiration” on ITV’s Jonathan Ross Show, in an interview that airs on Saturday (Nov. 30), reports the BBC on Friday (Nov. 29). It turns out, Hov was in the studio when Stormzy and Sheeran were recording the track that ended up on Sheeran’s 2019 album, No. 6 Collaborations Project.
“Before that I loved ‘Take Me Back to London’ because I thought it was just going to be me and Ed,” Stormzy said, “and then Ed was like, ‘Jay is getting on it.'”
On the track, Stormzy and Sheeran reminisce about their London roots.
“We got into the studio and we were writing for this song and then [Jay-Z] just stops the music and he said, ‘Tell me about London, I need some inspiration,'” Stormzy recalled.
After a long talk with the rap mogul about U.K. culture, they completed the track.
“At the end [Jay’s] smiling, we were probably talking for an hour and he goes, ‘So what do you think of the song?'” Stormzy remembered. “I was like, ‘I love this song but you being on the song changes everything.’ I was like, ‘I know how it goes, Mr Z. You are the most brilliant, busy man and I will probably never get this opportunity ever again but hand on my heart, I don’t think this is the right song for us. I don’t know why I’m saying this to you but this is not the song.'”
Jigga was understanding of the decision. “He fully understood [but] he couldn’t believe that I did it,” Stormzy said. “I felt proper bad because I was like, ‘You’re saying no to Jay-Z!’ Jay-Z was super proud and super shocked and taken aback by the fact that this kid told him.”
See the 25 Longest-Charting Hip-Hop Albums in Billboard 200 History