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
The Slaughterhouse dwellers are good rappers. Even my least favorite, the slightly annoying Joel Ortiz, has (clever/interesting) bars. Listen to how he introduces the group on the album’s first four. The beats bang too. This is better than the last real Slaughterhouse album, which makes me wonder why they didn’t save some of the songs, especially Offshore, for their next one. When they’re not bragging, the group has an emo-like tendency to express their solemn emotions; Crooked I even takes a moment to talk to his dead aunt; but the only major complaint I have about this mixtape is a lack of strong (catchy) hooks on the songs that have one.
my rating = 3 of 5
You can’t tell from the generic album title, but the Slaughterhouse rappers, even with weak link Joell Ortiz, can be a clever bunch. They hype themselves as the best rap group out now, and, if that’s true, it just means there aren’t any great rap groups out now, but there is enough lyrical skill between the four of them to make inviting songs that would otherwise turn you away. That’s literally the case with some of these songs as executive producer Eminem; a rapper who, once upon a time, would’ve easily outshined all four MCs; basically provides them with a tame collection of run-of-the-mill pop music. Rather than serve as a showcase for hip-hop; the only right direction to go with a group like this; the album seems to be made for the 2012 Billboard charts. A seemingly talentless Skylar Grey sings to emo Alex Da Kid beats. That fact alone flies in the face of what Slaughterhouse is supposed to be about. They may have “made it”, meaning heightened fame and fortune for four rappers who’ve never been far above the underground, but the Our Way claim rings false.
There is nothing essentially wrong with commercialized rap music, of course. The popular bandwagon is often a fun ride. Eminem has proven that time and time again. This Slaughter-House simply isn’t a good place to be. Both D-12 albums are better, for comparison’s sake, and I don’t even like the second D-12 album. That isn’t much of a surprise though. Eminem has been off-track ever since he went against his own Relapse; my second-favorite album of his; and ditched the twisted artistry of his Slim Shady persona for a watered-down pop hits Recovery. Listen to his forced flow on this album’s title track, which does include a witty line about his daughter, and tell me it’s any better than “eh”. Not that he never shines anymore. The Asylum song, which he provides the chorus and beat for, is actually good. But it’s only for the “Deluxe” version of the album, which means it has no affect on this review. The highlights that do count, like the Coffin drums and lyrics that are great as opposed to just better than most other mainstream rappers, are few and far between.
my rating = 3 of 5
The concept of this set was doomed from the beginning. It doesn’t really make sense to promote an album with an album, even when that promotional album is only a so-called mixtape, especially when it’s composed of new songs that aren’t included on the album its promoting, because it only distracts from what it’s supposed to focus your attention on. The idea is that, while you have to pay for the official album, this one is free, hence the title. But the official release date of Our House comes just days after this one. So if this one is better, it will overshadow it. If it’s worse, it will put a damper on positive anticipation the album had going for it. It’s not good promotion either way.
With that said, every member of Slaughterhouse is a skillful rapper. Even their weakest link, Joell Ortiz, can be surprisingly impressive at times. He outshines Royce Da 5-9; my pick for the best overall rapper of the four, though this set, which has him favoring a gay sing-songy flow over a straight one, doesn’t really reflect that; on Truth Or Truth, which comes across as a 14-minute rap therapy session. Joe Budden also shines there, though he’s missing in action on quite a few of these songs. The best ones are generally the ones with the best hooks; namely Sucka MCs, Gone and Coming Home; but even the worse ones have at-least a few impressive bars scattered here and there.
my rating = 3 of 5