audio review : Shady XV

audio review : Shady XV

If there were any doubt, you need not go further than the first song on this set to establish the fact that Eminem can still rap his ass off. He’s rarely as great as he once was; his last classic verse was probably from 2011’s BET Cypher; but this title track, which consists of one long verse over a sparse rock beat, trumps all of his pop peers. That includes his own artists, which Shady XV; a very needless 15-year Shady Records celebration; is designed to showcase.

The concept is reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s History; one half new songs, one half old songs; though that comes via an awkward 12/15 split. I also question the oddly-sequenced tracklist, which, as far as the old songs go, ignores whole albums; namely every Eminem solo; in favor of double dips. The new songs also miss the mark musically. Eminem peaks early with that first song. The rest represents his label for all the mediocrity its released over the years.

The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, Devil’s Night, Relapse; all good albums. Most of the rest are just okay. So while Eminem remains my favorite rapper, it has little to do with albums or songs. My Band and Purple Pills are funny, but the new “D-12” song, which doesn’t even feature Em, is a joke. There are solid beats here, but no noteworthy hooks. Skylar Grey and Kobe are seemingly talentless. He should stop featuring them on his songs.

Not that Sia does any better. Shady foolishly bashes his own We Made You single, from his aforementioned Relapse album, but that song, at least the beat and chorus, trumps everything (new) here. I’ll say for the third time that the Shady XV theme track is a lyrical triumph, but the self-proclaimed Rap God is generally rapping too fast these days. His new verbose style, which crams so many words in a verse that it often makes him sound off-beat, is annoying.

my rating = 3 of 5

2014

audio review : The Slim Shady LP ( album ) .. Eminem
audio review : The Marshall Mathers LP ( album ) .. Eminem
audio review : Devil’s Night ( album ) .. D-12
audio review : Relapse ( album ) .. Eminem
audio review : Recovery ( album ) .. Eminem
audio review : Hell [ The Sequel ] ( album ) … Bad Meets Evil
audio review : Welcome To Our House ( album ) … Slaughterhouse
audio review : The Marshall Mathers LP 2 ( album ) … Eminem

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audio review : Hell [ The Sequel ] ( album ) … Bad Meets Evil

Hell [ The Sequel ] ( album ) ... Bad Meets Evil

Eminem and Royce Da 5-9; collectively known as Bad Meets Evil, hence their duet from The Slim Shady LP; should’ve made an album back in 1999. Back then they were not only the best two rappers ever to emerge from the underground but nearly word-perfect to the point of lyrical flawlessness. Go back and listen to the song, or their classic Scary Movie, and tell me what rappers were better than those two.

There’s a song on this CD; the title of which follows in the footsteps of that aforementioned Shady LP duet; Eminem haphazardly refers to as the “sequel” to Scary Movie. But that’s lyrical blasphemy. No verse on this album even comes close. As far as skills go, both rappers are mere shadows of their former selves; especially Eminem, who went from being then considerably better than Royce to now about equal.

They are still two of the best rappers in the game though, and there are a few truly impressive bars sprinkled here and there. Eminem’s David Carradine Die Hard rhyme scheme sounds like vintage Eminem, and Royce’s “ass/bathroom” line is funny. In fact, that first track; Welcome 2 Hell; is one of the best songs, along with the ones with the best hooks; namely Lighters and A Kiss.

Eminem’s singing on A Kiss, which comes with a minor yet surprising technical flaw; that it sounds a little muffled, perhaps because it was mixed with a little too much bass; is what makes the song good. The sample of a girl’s voice saying she wants a kiss adds to the concept. Lighters, as soon as it begins, with Bruno Mars singing the chorus, sounds like it belongs on a different album, but it’s a nice song.

The Reunion is also a notable track. Not for its chorus, which is neither here nor there on the quality scale, but for the fact that Eminem makes a decent attempt to restrain the Recovery vocal delivery I hoped he’d stop using by now, and because both rappers give the tiring speed-rapping a break. The concept of the song is sloppy; romantic heartbreak doesn’t go well with their reunion story; but it’s okay enough.

The album; which, at nine full-length songs, is no more of an “EP” than Michael Jackson’s Thriller; ends with a Slaughterhouse song. And though Royce Da 5-9 should’ve come-in directly after Eminem, instead of after Crooked I; yes, the album has a few sequencing flaws; I guess that’s appropriate, assuming the next Shady Records release is a Slaughterhouse album.

my rating = 3 of 5

2011

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