What genre does Ed Sheeran belong to? Most casual observers would probably say pop but that doesn’t wash with the singer himself.

After the release of yet another hugely successful album, =, Sheeran was interviewed on The Breakfast Club. Although he’s been one of the biggest pop stars of the last decade, he discussed his mixed feelings about the pop genre.

“I’m not accepted by my genre,” he said. “I thought it was quite telling that my album came out and the only people that emailed me in-depth about liking it were like Dave and Stormzy and people from the UK rap and UK grime scene. My peers largely, I feel, in the pop scene often don’t want me to succeed. … I’ve never felt accepted by my scene.”

The positive reception from Dave and Stormzy makes sense given Sheeran’s passion for his home country’s rap and grime community. When he was then asked who he’d want to write for in music, he knew his answer right away and it was another huge pop star.

Rihanna is always the benchmark,” Sheeran said. “That’s how ‘Shape of You’ was created, that’s how ‘Love Yourself’ with Justin Bieber was created. … She’s got such great taste in songs … You can’t say what Rihanna’s style is—it’s just good tunes.

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So when you go in the studio to create a song, always we go, ‘What would Rihanna do?’ So she would be someone I’d always love to work with, and write with or for.”

Sheeran’s fifth studio album, =, was released on October 29th. Although it’s been receiving mixed reviews, it’s unsurprisingly been a chart hit, earning the singer his fifth number one on the ARIA Albums Chart, following 2012’s +, 2014, x, 2017’s ÷, and 2019’s No. 6 Collaborations Project. It also topped the U.K. and U.S. charts, becoming his fourth number one on the Billboard 200.

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Check out Ed Sheeran’s full interview on The Breakfast Club:

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