With the November 5 release of Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 approaching, HipHopDX staff assess three releases off the album.
The tracks include the Rick Rubin-produced single “Berzerk,” the DVLP-produced claim to Rap godliness on “Rap God” and the Frequency-produced “The Monster,” where Eminem details his internal battles.
With the first single from his forthcoming The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Eminem went all-out retro. The Detroit rhymer partnered with producer Rick Rubin, who was famous in the mid-1980s for “reducing” records, stripping them down to their core and delivering minimalistic, high quality, drum-, scratch- and guitar-driven soundbeds for Run-DMC, LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys, among others. Sonically, Rubin takes a page from his 1980s Rap playbook on “Berzerk,” with its bare-bones aural approach, while Eminem makes it clear with the line, “Let’s take it back to straight Hip Hop and start it from scratch,” that his lyrics will include an old school approach. Nonetheless, Slim Shady keeps it current by shouting out Kendrick Lamar (and giving him a cameo in the video, which also pays stylistic homage to the Beastie Boys’ “So What Cha Want”) and employing his patented pastime of including pop culture references into his rhymes in order to keep “Berzerk” from sounding completely throwback. It’s an interesting approach for the best-selling rapper of all time, abandoning a catchy hook and an appearance from a chart-topping R&B act on the chorus to propel the lead single for his new album. “Berzerk,” maybe. Bold, certainly. – Soren Baker (@SorenBaker)
Hip Hop, more specifically Rap music, is built upon superlatives. The nature of braggadocio in Hip Hop felt more like ammo for competitive reasons. It’s what’s fueled the friendliest beefs, the most intense cyphers, the most gruesome rap battles. But what happens when you’ve already been labeled as the proverbial “G.O.A.T.”? What happens when you’ve defied all color lines within Black music, and there are arguably no obstacles left nor no one else to battle? Well, you become a demigod named Eminem. On “Rap God,” he’s claiming the seat we’ve already given. With a series of indirect jabs, countless switches in cadence, and references to the same story we’ve been told since the first Marshall Mathers LP, Shady reminds us he’s the best. Yes, Em, we know. It’s not that “Rap God” isn’t good. It’s great. But the current State of Hip Hop has everyone attempting to shift from great to godly. We’ve watched Kanye West be damn near crucified for calling himself “A god” and “Yeezus.” Does placing “Rap” in front of this self-inflicted title make it any better? Not really. Mom jokes, sort of playful attempts at murder, and lots of nuts-grabbing is what basically encompasses Eminem’s MMLP2 torch single. He’s cleverly adept at achieving that topical trifecta, as he’s been using that same formula his entire career. Perhaps he felt like we’ve all forgotten he knows how to Rap and had to shift to the divine? But rhyming about being good at rhyming will eventually run you out of rhymes. God or not. – Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
Eminem has had many monsters to conquer. The Detroit, Michigan rapper has managed to channel a lot of those battles in his rhymes, fights with childhood bullies, his mother, his wife, his fans, his fame and his drug addiction, among many other on-record plights. On “The Monster,” Eminem is backed by Rihanna, another celebrity who has had to face personal monsters in the lime light. Eminem uses the Frequency production on “The Monster” to channel his rhymes. “I wanted the fame, but not the cover of Newsweek,” Eminem raps to start the track, before detailing his relationship with the metaphorical monster within. The song taps into many of the concepts that Eminem has had to challenge throughout his life and career, compelling bouts that have helped him become the best-selling rapper in the history of the genre. Taking a cue from hits like “Not Afraid” off 2010’s Recovery album, Eminem has another anthemic hit on his hands. – Andres Tardio (@AndresWrites)