Ed Sheeran Says New Album 'Definitely More Hip-Hop-Like'

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Ed Sheeran presents on stage at the Brit Awards on February 20, 2013 in London, England.

The "A Team" singer says he's looking to "challenge myself a little bit" on his sophomore album

As he traipses around North America with Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran already has his sophomore album in full motion.

The British troubadour and one-man live phenomenon tells Billboard that he's "probably about 40 tracks into the next album, and I'll pick 14 from that. I'm trying to write as many songs as possible; there are times I've been prolific and times I've not been prolific at all, but I just keep pushing. I think you just have to unclog the pipes and write as many songs as possible."

Sheeran adds that he's also making a concerted attempt "to try to kind of write different songs...that are kind of out of my comfort zone and challenge myself a little bit" -- a strategy he predicts will have a marked affect on the follow-up to his platinum debut set "+."

"It's definitely leaning towards more of a beat-heavy thing, definitely more hip-hop-like," Sheeran says. "I think I've evolved a bit more since I made the first record, which I think is a healthy thing."

Sheeran says he's already been in the studio to make demos for the album, and he expects to get to work in earnest after his stint with Swift wraps Sept. 21 -- most likely recording in Los Angeles with a producer that is yet to be named.

Until then, Sheeran says he'll be enjoying his time out on Swift's Red Tour, which includes his own set as well as a moment with Swift to recreate their duet on "Everything Has Changed" from the "Red" album.

"Obviously I'm reaching new people -- and a lot more people," Sheeran acknowledges. "I'm still building myself, I think. I'm doing OK. I'm not like (Swift) yet, you know. But being out there (with Swift) is good, man. It's a huge, huge production, the first time I've ever seen anything like this, let alone play it. We're so different from one another it's more like a complement to what the other does. I'm not trying to compete with it. I just do what I do, and people seem to like it. Everyone sings 'The A Team,' so it's very positive."