Tag Archives: eminem

Eminem – Revival

11 Jan

Like most people of my age, much of the first music that I really listened to was Eminem’s. Unlike much of the other stuff I heard, Em’s early stuff still holds up amazingly today. It is astounding how good he was at his peak. Revival however is unfortunately nowhere near that peak.

This album continues a now decades long trend of mediocre Eminem albums and two facts are to blame. The first is that Eminem seems to be the only true practitioner of stadium rap. Interpolating “I Love Rock n Roll” for “Remind Me” would be fun to chant in a full stadium, but doesn’t work when listening to it by yourself. Similarly, aren’t we all tired of the “Zombies” sample he uses in “In Your Head” by now?

This problem has roots deep in his history. He always liked stadium rock more than the average rapper and it used to work. The “Dream On” hook does so much for “Sing For The Moment”, but here the sound just feels banal. It makes sense given the circumstances. Eminem is one of the few rappers able to pack a stadium and his audience is probably a little less conversant with rap than that of, say, Kendrick Lamar. This music feels built for a specific circumstance. It’s just not very good anywhere else.

This is quite a shame given that Eminem is probably the greatest student of the game there ever was. There is some irony in how the success he built through his skill has now kept him from fully exercising that same skill. Even so, the skill does show. His ability to pick up other people’s flows here is impressive, even if the resulting song is mediocre and his ability to chop words into whatever he wants remains unparalleled. However, all of this technique just feels empty, which leads us to the second problem.

Em just really has nothing left to say. I had really hoped that his new political stance would result in some depth from him. After all, his early stuff was always ready to take shots at Bush. Yet in Revival, for all that I wish “Untouchable” was solid commentary, it is actually just unlistenable. He gets moments in “Bad Husband” as he mines his familiar emotional seams of fatherhood and his ex-wife and the more mature angle is a little fresh, but the old magic is gone and it’s probably time to accept that it’s not coming back. He’s just too successful.

Additionally, people are just harder to shock now than they were in his prime. Talking about throwing Ivanka Trump into the back of a trunk just doesn’t have the punch it would have had 20 years ago. The world has turned.

Eminem’s legacy will undoubtedly be that of one of the greatest rappers of all time and his success is commensurate. It’s becoming impossible though to deny that same success is going to keep him from ever adding anything new to his legacy. This album certainly isn’t worth remembering.


Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP 2

1 Dec

With one shining exception, this has been the year of mediocre rap album from big name artists. The Marshall Mathers LP 2, despite being Eminem’s best album since The Eminem Show, does nothing to buck this trend.

Let’s start by playing the good guy, writing the review that even Buzzfeed would accept. As ever, Eminem is a lyrical titan. I would cannot think of a single rapper whom I put above Eminem in terms of wordplay. Sometimes scary (So I sneak vengefully and treat your bedroom window/Like I reach my full potential, I peaked), sometimes scatological (In a public stall droppin’ a football/So every time someone walks in the john I get maddened), but always scintillating. Dense, unexpected and humorous, his lines hold up his own standard and there is no bar quite as high.

Some of the music on this album is indisputably incredible. Bad Guy is an excellent self-aware commentary on Em that switches sharply in the middle. So Far… is not only brilliant in all the standard Slim Shady ways, but novel sounding as well. Headlights, Marshall’s version of Dear Mama had me feeling more sympathetic for Slim than I have in a long time. The Monster shows Rihanna to great advantage and while Love Game is far below what you would expect from a K.Dot collaboration, it is still a solid song.

On the other hand though, I skip past half of the songs in the album every time I listen. Rap God, despite being an astounding displaying of Em’s lyrical abilities just gets repetitive very quickly. The words may have changed, but it’s hard not to feel like I’ve heard that song before. I now dislike stadium rap much more than before thanks to Survival, which is actually not too bad, and Berzerk, which is. So Much Better is a very strange take on the history of rap, and let alone a candle, can’t even hold a spill, to I Used To Love H.E.R.. Worst of all, Stronger Than I Was is an atonal, unlistenable mess. Rap has changed from the times when Eminem was relevant, but he really shouldn’t try to change with them.

Also, as always, Slim does not stint on the homophobia (although there is a shout out to Frank Ocean’s excellent Swim Good) and misogyny. If that affects you, then I would advise avoiding this album, but I think it unlikely that you would be a Shady fan in the first place. However, the hate and violence lack the shock value they held over a decade ago. His attacks also feel less incisive. The Gwen Stefani shot for instance (Good luck trying to convince a blonde/That’s like telling Gwen Stefan’ that she sold out/Cause I was tryna leave, No Doubt/In anyone’s mind…) is clever, but is also the first time in years that I thought about Gwen Stefani.

This is in places a great album, and Eminem cements his place as the most technically accomplished rapper in the game and possibly all time with it, but is far from his first three albums and far from enough to return him to relevance.

Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP

24 Feb

Only once in a while do we come across greatness, whether it is in the form of movies, art, literature or music. Greatness which doesn’t present itself to us in the form of a fluke, but sheer talent. Greatness which can be spoken about, even a hundred years after the particular event/form of art has been created. I’m going to talk about one such masterpiece that I was lucky enough to observe at its inception.

This particular art is none other than Eminem’s 2nd major label album- The Marshall Mathers LP. The album is one of the most aggressive and important music albums to release during a time when the frustrated, directionless and angry youth was trying desperately to find someone they could relate themselves to. A time when hypocrites and fakes were rampant in the music industry. This time was during the late 90’s & the year 2000.

Just when people got used to calling Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys as the greatest artists of all time, Marshall Mathers aka Eminem aka Slim Shady stepped onto the scene.

Eminem changed the face of hip-hop & rap, particularly with his album, The Marshall Mathers LP, which came out on May 23, 2000. This album, apart from being extremely controversial, it eventually sold 10,598,000 copies, becoming one of the most commercially successful rap albums of all time. It has been ranked as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time by Rolling Stone, Time, and XXL. It is also one of the only albums to be acclaimed by critics, as well as the mainstream-pop loving- audience. It influenced us all.

Every song on the album was a classic; even the skits were worth listening to. The album starts off with the satirical “Public Service Announcement 2000” where Eminem reminds us in under a minute that he doesn’t mind being sued over what he raps about. It smoothly merges into one of the most shocking diss songs – “Kill You”. Eminem aggressively takes shots at his ex-wife, Kim, the mainstream radio shows and yes, his own mother.

The next song on the album is the famous “Stan”, where Em talks about obsession from a deranged fan’s point of view. It is a brilliant song- right from Eminem’s solid storyline verses, to Dido’s haunting hook. After this song, we have a skit called “Paul”, where Eminem’s attorney, Paul Rosenberg seems dejected after listening to this album.

The next song is “Who Knew”. This is an extremely raw song, which reminds me of the songs on the Slim Shady LP, Eminem’s first mainstream album. Eminem is at his most honest and straightforward self in this song, where he questions parent’s upbringing of their children. For instance, pay close attention to the lines- “Told them that my tape taught them, to swear/ What about the makeup you allow your 12 year old daughter to wear?”

The end of this song marks the beginning of a skit called “Steve Berman”, where Steve gives Eminem a piece of his mind because he hates the album’s themes and he compares his album to Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001 explaining why the latter was so successful. Next on the list is “The Way I Am” where Eminem reminds the world why he doesn’t give a f*** and warns us to leave him alone in peace. This is followed by “The Real Slim Shady” where Em tells us how despite millions of people imitating him, there will be only one Eminem.

The next song is “Remember Me” featuring RBX and Sticky Fingaz. All 3 rappers produce solid verses which soothe as much as they sting. This song has one of the best Dr. Dre beats in it. After this, “I’m Back” commences, which is one of the most aggressive songs Eminem has done, even without his trademark screaming. He reminds us that he is back with a vengeance and is here to stay. This sparks the next song which is “Marshall Mathers” where Em tells us that he’s just a normal human being like the rest of us, and how his fame & fortune paved way for even the most hostile people to embrace him.

Now, the next song is a skit called “Ken Kaniff”. I’d rather not give a description of what exactly happens in the skit, but it’s basically where Em makes fun of Shaggy 2 Dope & Violent Jay, two other artists who Em had a beef going on with for many years even after the album was out. The next song is “Drug Ballad”, where Em talks about the ill effects of drugs, in his own twisted, satirical way.

This is followed by “Amityville” which features ex-D-12 member, Bizarre. Eminem raps about how he’ll kill you if he’s pushed too far, especially in Detroit. Bizarre gives us one of the craziest verses in rap history. You better hear it to believe it. The next song is “Bitch Please” which has a star studded guest feature- Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and Xzibit. All the artists show off their rapping skills, where as usual, Eminem outshines the rest.

The next song is the brutal “Kim” where Eminem kills his wife after catching her cheating with him. After this, Eminem gives us another hard hitting, vulgar song “Under The Influence” which features his group D-12, of which he’s a part.

The final song is “Criminal”, which, personally is one of my all time favourite Eminem songs. He is crazy, funny, brutal and serious at the same time. The song also includes a funny skit where he and Dr. Dre pull off a bank heist without getting caught.

So there you have it. I actually reviewed the entire album tracklist in the correct order without even looking at the album back-cover. Yes, such fans do exist, and there is a REASON why such fans exist. I hope whoever reads this gives this album a listen. Especially those who think rap & hip-hop is comprised of only people like Nicki Minaj, Soulja Boy etc.

– Faisal

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