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
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
Devil’s Night formally introduces the pop music world to the group Eminem rapped with before he got famous and took over. It’s D-12; The Dirty Dozen; “twleve motherfuckers in six different bodies with their personalities split” as he explains on the opener. And though only about half of those personalities are interesting enough to stand-out on their own, the album provides a dose of high-concept entertainment.
“It ain’t nothing but music,” Dr Dre declares over a technofied circus beat. That song, like much of the album, is a comical response to people who claim the group’s songs are a negative influence on children. From Eminem shooting at cops to Bizarre kidnapping Lil Bow Wow, you get the sense that all D-12 wants to do is stir-up more controversy. Fight Music, for example, is for kids to “trash their rooms with”.
Eminem, while not as lyrically impressive as he was on his Marshall Mathers LP, is consistently on-point. He’s still the best rapper. But Bizarre’s shock value; the crazy and sometimes surprisingly vulgar things he says and does in his verses, like eating his girlfriend’s “miscarriage”; makes him a notable second. Kuniva is third, followed by Proof, leaving Swifty McVay and Kon Artis merely stringing along for the hell of it.
my rating = 4 of 5