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

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

Bizarre – “Rufus” review

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This is the 4th studio album from Detroit rapper Bizarre, who is widely known for being a member of the now defunct D12. He was one of the first members of the group to already have an established solo career, as his 1998 EP Attack of the Weirdos as well as his 2005 debut album Hannicap Circus are hometown classics in my eyes. Last time we heard from him in a full-length capacity was in 2010 with Friday Night at St. Andrews but after years of focusing on mixtapes & more recently the duo L.A.R.S. with King Gordy, he’s back with his first studio album in 9 years with Rufus.

The opener “RIP Bizarre” talks about how wild he is over a woozy instrumental, but then it cuts into a spoken word piece where he announces that the Bizarre character will be out the window for a while. The intro is an auto-tune trap ballad about all the drugs he does while the song “Day in the Hood” talks about what it’s like living in Detroit over a haunting trap beat. The track “Puffin'” with Danny Mellz & Wack Rac sees the 3 of course talking about weed over a nocturnal beat while the song “Grandmom” is an endearing tribute to Biz’s late grandmother.

The track “Wish I Was High” is an hallucinogenic banger about wanting to be under the influence & while I like the bass-heavy instrumental on the song “Dope Fiend”, Biz’s whispery delivery doesn’t do it for me. The track “Leatherface” finds L.A.R.S getting with Lazarus & Hopsin to deliver an epically grimy horrorcore cut while the song “Get Hi” talks about his love for weed over an intoxicating beat. The track “Treat Yourself” talks about appreciating the simple things in life & not letting the world bring you down over a skeletal instrumental whereas the song “Late Night” with Oba Rowland is an awkward attempt at a “sexy” radio hit.

The track “Lose Weight” talks about wanting to live a healthier lifestyle after recently being diagnosed with diabetes over a soulful instrumental while the song “Man on a Mission” with Danny Mellz & Tay Kova sees the 3 talking about ruff riding over a druggy trap beat. The track “Petty” with former D12 bandmate dEnAuN sees the 2 talking about being just that over a stripped back instrumental while the song “Step Father” is a dedication to all the stepfathers out there backed with a rich instrumental & while the song “Free” talks about being relieved, the beat is nondescript.

The track “My Daughter” talks about not wanting to be a bad father over a vibraphone-inflicted trap beat whereas the song “Breathe Deep” talks about being on the verge of a panic attack over a grim instrumental. The track “Marijuana” needs no further explanation lyrically although I do like the vibrant production while the penultimate track “Bizarre Back / Have You Ever” starts off with a spoken word piece announcing the return of the Bizarre character & then he busts in asking rhetorical questions over a dazing instrumental. Then there’s the closer “Fans”, where Biz invites a handful of independent rappers on to showcase their talents.

This is actually a pretty solid effort from Biz overall. Sure it’s 80 minutes long & there are some cuts on here that I can personally do without, but it’s a nice change of pace as he spends a good 95% of the time telling you who he really is as a person & where he’s at now.

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