Eminem – “Music to Be Murdered By: Side B” review

Eminem. Slim Shady. Marshall Mathers. B-Rabbit. The white guy from D12. What can be said now about the Detroit icon that hasn’t been said already? Especially since his first 3 major label albums The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP & The Eminem Show are considered by many to be the holy trinity in his discography. However, things have been quite rough for Em in the last 3-4 years. Revival was unquestionably one of the worst albums of the 2010s, which he would vent his frustration with on his last 2 full-lengths Kamikaze & Music to Be Murdered By. But after many rumors, we’re being treated to a sequel to his previous album.

After the “Alfred” intro, the first song “Black Magic” is a questionable opener about this woman having his heart in chains over a glossy beat whereas the next track “Alfred’s Theme” picks things up as Eminem reaffirms his technicality over a zany, cartoonish instrumental. My favorite line was when he said “I won’t buy a designer ’cause I don’t pander”. The song “Tone Deaf” talks about those who try to cancel him along with an awkward line about “playing Fortnite with your grandma” & a dope tribute to King Von over a funky ass beat with co-production from Luis Resto while the track “Book of Rhymes” lets loose every thought he had over a generic trap instrumental with co-production from Illa da Producer & a mediocre switch-up. Also of all joints, why have DJ Premier do scratching for this?

The song “Favorite Bitch” looks back on the days when he was young & hungry over an wavy beat while the track “Guns Blazing” with Dr. Dre finds the 2 talking about being back on their bullshit just like the old days over a grand, bassy instrumental. The song “Gnat” compares his lyrics to COVID & throws a redundant MGK jab over a mellow beat while the track “Higher” compellingly talks about not knowing where to go from here over a buzzing instrumental. I liked it when Em said “Reminds me of how an overcrowded hospital waitin’ room’ll get, what I mean it’s maybe I have more patience than I’m able to admit“. The song “These Demons” talks about how funny haters are along with a clever ICP reference over a quasi-tropical beat & after the “Key” skit, the track “She Loves Me” talks about this women being “Carmen Electrocute” over a triumphant instrumental from Dre.

The song “Killer” talks about money over a rubbery beat while the track “Zeus” is a “Rap God” sequel backed with a depressive instrumental from T-Minus & I don’t think he’s dissing Snoop Dogg like a lot of people are saying because Uncle Snoop has always had nothing but love for Em. Also the Rihanna line was dope & the opening line “She says I’m trash, but listens to Tekashi” made me cringe because let’s be real: NOBODY listens to that clown in 2020. And this is coming from someone who’s never even listened to TattleTales. After the “Thus Far” interlude, the closer “Discombobulated” takes it back to the Relapse days as Eminem is rapping in accents about being just that over over a Dr. Dre beat reminiscent to the early 2000s co-produced by Black Bethoven & S1.

We all saw this coming (especially since Aftermath Entertainment’s in-house producer Dem Jointz posted the artwork on Instagram just 2-3 days before) & to be honest, it’s better than it’s predecessor. Nothing that’s gonna change my year-end lists but the production has improved whereas lyrically, Eminem is focusing less on the backlash Revival justifiably received & looking forward to the future. It also fits the whole Hitchcock theme a lot better if you ask me.

Score: 3.5/5

Royce da 5’9” – “The Allegory” review

Royce da 5’9” is a Detroit veteran that most are familiar with for being 1/2 of Bad Meets Ǝvil with local sensation Eminem. However his mark as one of the city’s illest lyricists has already been made with releases such as Death is Certain, Street Hop, Success is Certain, Layers & even Royce’s last album Book of Ryan. Also can’t forget to mention his work with longtime collaborator DJ Premier as the MC/producer duo PRhyme or with the now defunct quartet of all-star wordsmiths that was once Slaughterhouse. But with Black History Month almost over, Nickel is celebrating with The Allegory.

Things kick off with “Mr. Grace”, where Royce delivers some wisdom & I love how the instrumental constantly switches from horn to string samples throughout. The next song “Dope Man” with Emanny sees the 2 discussing how drug dealers are the kings of the streets over an infectious instrumental while the track “I Don’t Age” talks about how dope he still is over a boom bap beat with the lead riff switching off between a bass-line & a piano sample. The song “Pendulum” is laced with battle bars backed with a solemn boom bap beat while the track “I Play Forever” with Grafh sees the 2 talking about falling in love with the street life over some horns.

After the “Ice Cream” interlude, the song “On the Block” sees PRhyme getting together to discuss hustling over a mesmerizing instrumental & the Oswin Benjamin verse really took me by surprise. After the “Generation is Broken” interlude, the song “Overcomer” with Westside Gunn is about how the 2 rose above their shortcomings over a prominent vocal sample & I definitely can’t forget to mention Royce’s disses towards former collaborator/Shady Records artist Yelawolf not too long after his verse starts. Is he really a “vulture pundit” in my eyes? No, not at all. That being said, I do understand Royce’s point of view on the whole thing. After the “Mrs. Grace” interlude, the song “Thou Shall” with Kid Vishisis essentially both of the Montgomery brothers talking about their accomplishments over a spooky instrumental.

The track “FUBU” with Conway the Machine sees the 2 challenging anyone who opposes them over a demented instrumental & after the “A Black Man’s Favorite Shoe” skit, the song “Upside Down” with Benny the Butcher finds both wordsmiths getting violent over a cavernous boom bap beat. After the “Perspective” skit where Eminem discusses racism in the music industry, the track “Tricked” with KXNG CROOKED is pretty much both MCs cleverly breaking down the idea of deception over a tense instrumental. After the “Black People in America”, the song “Black Savage” is empowering anthem towards African Americans with both dEnAuN & 6 July helping Royce heavily sample the afro-rock band of the same name. The bars that CyHi the Prynce & T.I. both bring to the table are dope, but White Gold’s verse was kinda pointlessly short to me.

The track “Rhinestone Doo Rag” despite being short is about how the next generation is on those listening over a soothing instrumental while the song “Young World” with G Perico & Vince Staples sees the 3 sending an important message to the youth over a funky instrumental. The penultimate track “My People Free” has a respectable concept, but it seems like more of an Ashley Morrell song to as she dominates a bulk of it & Royce makes very little appearance on it himself. Then there’s the closer “Hero”, where Royce pays tribute to his father over an instrumental that’s sweet to the ear.

The album isn’t perfect, but it’s still a fantastic listen. A couple of the features were pretty weak & the interludes are pretty annoying but lyrically, this is definitely Royce’s most conscious effort to date. And for him to start getting behind the boards & self-produce damn near the whole thing, he does a pretty good job at it.

Score: 4/5

Eminem – “Music to Be Murdered By” review

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This is the surprise 11th full-length album from Detroit icon Eminem. His first 3 major label albums The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP & The Eminem Show are considered by many to be the holy trinity in discography. The last few years have been rough for Marshall though, as Revival is widely considered to be one of the worst albums of the 2010s. The follow-up Kamikaze was actually a solid return to form & he’s continuing that with Music to Be Murdered By.

The opener “Premonition” sees Em taking a jab at his critics over a surprisingly haunting trap beat from his mentor Dr. Dre while the next song “Unaccommodating” with Young M.A. of all people sees the 2 discussing their titular attitude over a generic trap beat & a very cringey hook. A lot of people are complaining about the Ariana Grande line too, but let’s not forget when Em referenced Columbine on The Marshall Mathers LP. The track “You Gon’ Learn” is a Bad Meets Ǝvil reunion where Em & his partner in rhyme Royce da 5’9″ discuss some of their internal conflicts over a boom bap beat with a mesmerizing soul sample. After the “Alfred” interlude, the song “Those Kinda Nights” reflects on his golden years over a bouncy beat & a needless Ed Sheeran hook while the track “In Too Deep” is packed with relationship melodrama & the beat is pretty uneventful too.

The song “Godzilla” talks about how much of a monster Em is over a vibrant trap beat & while I’m surprised to hear the late Juice WRLD on the hook, it’s not bad. The track “Darkness” talks about depression over a bleak instrumental while the song “Leaving Heaven” talks about who he is now over a guitar & some drums going off like gunshots. Also, Skylar Grey’s performance on here is tasteless as she usually is. The track “Yah Yah” sees Bad Meets Ǝvil getting with Black Thought to remind us of their places in the culture as elite MCs over a cluttered beat from dEnAuN.

After the “Stepdad” intro, we get into the actual song “Stepdad”. Where Marshall disses a man who was abusive to him & his mother Debbie when he was younger over a grimy beat from The Alchemist. I get where he’s coming from, but the hook on here is patience testing. The track “Marsh” talks about being out of this world over a trap beat with some plinky keys while the song “Never Love Again” is a sappy breakup song backed-up by a mediocre Dre beat.

The track “Little Engine” talks about losing control over an eerie beat while the song “Lock It Up” with Anderson .Paak sees the 2 talking about almost losing it & it sounds like there’s a Chinese sample in the beat. The track “Farewell” talks about his ex-wife Kim over a punchy beat while the song “No Regrets” talks about his come-up over an abrasive beat. Before the “Alfred” outro, the final song “I Will” finds Marshall reuniting Slaughterhouse sans Joe Budden to talk about homicide over a boom bap beat with a haunting organ.

Personally, this is a step-up from Kamikaze. The hooks & the mixing could’ve been better at points, but it’s like a modern day update of the criminally underrated Relapse just 11 years back from Dr. Dre returning behind the boards to the Aflred Hitchcock homages throughout. Hope Marshall continues to go down this path towards redemption.

Score: 3.5/5

Eminem – “KAMIKAZƎ” review

It’s been merely 8 months since the critically panned RƎVIVAL was released but earlier this weekend out of nowhere, Detroit hip hop icon Eminem is returning with his 10th full-length album.

The album begins “The Ringer”, where he says “fuck you” to everyone who trashed his last album over a gloomy beat. He also takes shots at Lil Yachty, Lil Pump, Lil Xan & Vince Staples. I found the disses at all 3 Lil’s to be pretty funny, but I can’t say the same for the one about Vince. The next song “Greatest” serves as a sequel to “Rap God” with a Mike WiLL-Made It instrumental while the track “Lucky You” with Joyner Lucas sees the 2 talking about being underlooked & overlooked despite their success over a trap beat with some chimes. After the Paul skit, we go into the song “Normal”. Em on here talks about an ex over a instrumental that starts off grimy, but switches into a trap beat with plinky keys. However, the hook & the delivery when the beat switches is trash. After the “Em Calls Paul” skit, we go into the song “Stepping Stone”. Here, Em pretty much confirms that D12 is done over a punchy instrumental. The song “Not Alike” by Bad Meets Ǝvil literally starts off as a parody of “Look Alive” by BlocBoy JB & Drake down to the Tay Keith instrumental, but it does a complete 180 as an original instrumental with a futuristic bass-heavy vibe comes in halfway through the track. I also liked the MGK diss at the halfway point of Em’s verse.

The title track sees Em pretty much calling RƎVIVAL the “FACK” of his albums over a Mike WiLL-Made It instrumental kin to ƎNCORE & while I don’t care for the instrumental or the hook on “Fall”, Eminem responds to his critics very well. I also found the one line at the beginning of the 2nd verse dissing Everyday Struggle creators DJ Akademiks & Joe Budden (the latter of whom was once signed to Shady Records as 1/4 of the now defunct supergroup Slaughterhouse)  to be pretty unapologetically lethal. However, the jab at Charlemagne Tha God was just ok & the ones towards both Tyler, The Creator & Earl Sweatshirt were my least favorites on the entire album. It’s not even because he called Tyler a “faggot”, because Eminem has literally calling people that throughout his entire career. It’s because I found it to be unnecessary. However, I did find it interesting that he ends the final verse by taking a jab at Lord Jamar as well as owning up to influencing Hopsin & Logic, both of whom’s latest material has been pretty awful in my personal opinion. The next 2 songs “Nice Guy” & “Good Guy” with Jessie Reyez on both tracks Segway into each other very well sonically & lyrically, as they each talk about a failing relationship. The instrumental on “Nice Guy” has some pretty piano chords during the awkward Melanie Martinez sounding hook, but during the verses it switches into a gritty baseline. As for the beat on “Good Guy”, it has a WAY more classier tone to it. Both of them are just ok, but I just wish they were fused into 1 single track. The album ends oddly with “Venom”, which is commissioned for the upcoming Marvel movie with the same name. It’s a good theme song for it, but the hook is hilariously awful.

To be quite honest, I enjoyed this album quite a bit. A couple of the beats & hooks are weak but for the most part, Eminem manages to come out of the dark with a vengeance. The production is much better than RƎVIVAL’s down to the mixing & Em lights a fire under his ass, both lyrically & delivery-wise.

Score: 3.5/5

Royce da 5’9” – “Book of Ryan” review

With PRhyme 2 being released just a month & a half ago, renown Detroit underground MC Royce da 5’9” has now delivered his long-awaited 7th full-length album. After the intro, we go into the first song “Woke”. Here, Royce sends a message to those who’re sleeping confrontational over a Key Wane instrumental with some eerie choir vocals in the back. After the “My Parallel” skit, we go into the song “Caterpillar”. Here, Bad Meets Ǝvil reunites to tell the audience pretty much what Mark Jackson told Steve Kerr a few years ago over a hard hitting vibraphone instrumental from S1.

The track “God Speed” talks about making it of the hood over a smooth mR. pOrTeR instrumental while the song “Dumb” with Shady Records’ latest signee Boogie sees the 2 talking about the current state of the music industry over an S1 instrumental that sounds like something Dr. Dre & Scott Storch would’ve made together in the Early 2000s. After the “Who Are You” skit, we go into the song “Cocaine”. Here, Royce reflects on his dad’s issues with the drug over a murky DJ Khalil beat. The track “Life is Fair” talks about an ungrateful woman from his childhood over a heavy piano-Fuse instrumental while the song “Boblo Boat” sees Royce reminiscing about family trips to amusement parks & J. Cole reflecting on growing up in North Carolina over a soulful Cool & Dre instrumental.

The song “Legendary” talks about his status in the game over a bass-heavy electro instrumental from mR. pOrTeR while the track “Summer on Lock” with Fabolous & Jadakiss is filled with braggadocious bars over an eerie beat. The song “Amazing” reflects on his old neighborhood over a blissful beat while the track “Outside” vents about his fears over an atmospheric DJ Khalil instrumental.  The song “Power” talks about his family’s alcoholism over a piano/bass heavy instrumental from Boi-1da & after recalling an childhood incident at a basketball court during the “Protecting Ryan” skit, we go into the track “Strong Friend”. Here, Royce reflects on his past alcoholism with some dramatic strings & funky bass.

The song “Anything/Everything” gets conscious over some jazzy piano chords while the penultimate track “Stay Woke” thanks his Bad Meets Ǝvil cohort Eminem for his sobriety while also reminding us how dope he is during the 2nd half of it over an orchestral Frank Dukes & !llmind instrumental. The album then finishes with “1st of the Month”, where Royce gets with T-Pain recalls how happy they would be when they used to get welfare checks during the 1st day of the month over a luscious piano instrumental.

Overall, this is tied with Street Hop as Royce’s magnum opus. It sounds focused & passionate, the production is organic & we are truly getting Royce at his most personal point blank period with each track

Score: 4.5/5

Eminem – “RƎVIVAL” review

After cleverly promoting it for the past month or so with the fake-drug ads, renown Detroit hip hop superstar Eminem is finally giving fans with his 9th full-length album. The opener “Walk on Water” vents about the struggles he’s had for the best decade or so over a gospel like-piano instrumental from Rick Rubin. The song “Believe” pretty much asks the listeners if they would turn their backs on him over a piano & some awkward snares. The flow is pretty uninteresting as well.

The track “Chloraspetic” gets braggadocious about his rapping prowess over a trap beat from mR. pOrTeR, but the parts where he bites Migos flow is absolutely embarrassing. The song “Untouchable” intelligently talks about racial injustice, but the production on here was just ok & it didn’t need to be 6 minutes long. And on top of that, the “white boy white boy, you’re a rock star” hook is God awful. However, the second half of this is much better than the rap rock-tinged first half. The track “River” talks about a failing relationship over a guitar & after an unnecessary skit preluding the next song “Remind Me”, we get the actual song & it’s sickeningly lovey dovey. Especially with the cheesy “I Love Rock & Roll” sample that’s used throughout a bulk of the track & the corny ass lines like “Your booty is heavy duty like diarrhea” & “you’re smoking like Snoop Dogg”.

After the “Revival” interlude, we then go into the next song “Like Home”. Here, Eminem is dissing Donald Trump over an uplifting instrumental & the Alicia Keys hook is just ok. The track “Bad Husband” is an open apology letter to Em’s ex-wife Kim Mathers over a somber beat & the X Ambasadors hook is mediocre. The track “Tragic Endings” sees Em being pushed around by a manipulative lover over an abrasive beat & while “Framed” goes back to his horrorcore roots with an eerie beat, the hook is annoying.

The song “Nowhere Fast” gets reflective about the younger days over string-induced trap beat & the Kehlani hook doesn’t help at all. The track “Heat” talks about this chick who he thinks is as vile as his RELAPSƎ album from 2009 & the beat is almost the same as “So Far…” off his last album The Marshall Mathers LP 2. The song “Offended” takes a jab at all the naysayers & while the verses & the beat aren’t too bad, the interpolation of “The Knife Game Song” is drab. The track “Need Me” feels more like a P!nk song than an Eminem song given that Em only appears at the end & almost as unbearably sappy as “Revenge” off of P!nk’s latest album Beautiful Drama.

The song “In Your Head” talks about his famous alter ego Slim Shady & The Cranberries sample actually works well. The penultimate track “Castle” sees Em writing 3 different letters to his daughter Hailie in 1995, 1996 & 2007 respectively & it’s absolutely touching. The closer “Arose” talks about his overdose in 2008 & his output since then over an ambitious instrumental, but he literally “rewinds it” to the final verse from the previous song “Castle” during the last minute & a half & it ruins the vibe.

Overall, this is Eminem’s worst album yet. He still has it lyrically, but he needs better features. He needs better production. He needs to stop making some tracks drag on longer than they should’ve. I really had hope that this would be a consistently great album, but I‘m gonna have to accept that poppy Eminem is here to stay forever

Score: 1/5