Eminem is a legendary rapper from Detroit, Michigan. After an entire week of rumors and speculation, his newest album, Music To Be Murdered By Side B, has finally arrived. Featuring 16 entirely new tracks, the record serves as a direct follow-up to his January effort, Music To Be Murdered By. With guest appearances from Ty Dolla $ign, DJ Premier, and most excitingly, Dr. Dre, will Eminem be able to take another huge leap forward and create his darkest classic to date?
When it comes to Eminem’s performance, he seems to have reverted back to his old ways. Set in stone on “Black Magic” with Skylar Grey, Marshall’s solid delivery and flow are botched by the painfully generic lyrics about a toxic relationship. For some reason, Eminem still finds the need to make even more love anthems like the Ty Dolla $ign collaboration “Favorite B*tch”. At this point, it’s honestly head-scratching why he’s still making tracks like this after all of the negative backlash they have received over the years. Moving past this, things only get more frustrating as cuts like “Tone Deaf”s intense lyrics are overshadowed by a terrible flow that honestly sounds like he’s impersonating a female pop singer. Fortunately, the dark humor seen throughout a lot of the material isn’t totally ruined as moments like “Alfred’s Theme” and “Guns Blazing” capture the weird creativity the Detroit rappers renowned for. On the note of “Guns Blazing”, the aggressively potent feature from Dr. Dre is awesome to digest, but the over the top singing from Sly Pepper makes the overall track feel slightly disappointing. Serving as the turning point of this first half, “Gnat” shows Eminem in a new element as he attempts to make a trap banger. While some may cringe at the thought of this, the way he floats over the d.a got that scope instrumental is near perfect. Out of all these songs, “Book of Rhymes” is the surefire highlight as, over a set of DJ Premier instrumentals, Slim Shady taps into his inner psycho as he switches between flows and pockets to intimidate the listener in this frightening assertion of dominance. Although there’s a fair share of duds in the first half of this highly anticipated LP, it’s not enough to ruin the vision the “Alfred (Intro)” has set out for.
On the closing leg, the overall quality of the record takes an even steeper nose dive. The same principle of tracks being loaded with moments both good and bad continues to be a prominent issue as cuts like “Higher” contain some well thought out abrasive lyricism, but the 46-year-olds head-scratching hook makes you wonder why he’s still trying to tap into his melodic side. Honestly, the main issue here is Mathers’s inability to focus on a specific idea or sound, which is at its peak on “These Demons,” which is so incoherent it bounces around from ideas ranging from racial injustice to his chances at sleeping with Young M.A. Still, this hardly feels like an issue when looking at the stalkerish ballads like “She Loves Me” and “Killer” which are tanked by songwriting that feels like it’s from the mind of a horny seventh-grader. As the rest of the tracklist goes, Eminem tries to jump back in time to capture fans’ hearts by pulling on their nostalgia strings. Emphasized on the “Key (Skit)”, we see the return of the character, Ken Kaniff, who’s only gotten even less funny with his terribly sung melody about all the women he attracts. Later in the record, “Zeus” modernizes the satirical humor which made Shady the household name he is today by taking jabs at guys like Tekashi 6ix9ine and Machine Gun Kelly. While this is alright, the album’s closer “Discombobulated” is easily the best part about this tiring second half as everything from Eminem’s delivery to cadence is a straight nod to his cult classic album Relapse. Using legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic narrations on interludes like “Thus Far”, it’s sinister that there no context in this deluded mess to make it anything special.
Behind the boards, there’s a well-arranged soundtrack that does its best to salvage each moment. From the dramatic piano on “Black Magic” to the intuitive trap drums on “Zeus”, the sonic background presented isn’t as unique as its predecessor, but it’s still above average. When it comes to standouts, some of the most memorable beats are “Guns Blazing,” “She Loves Me,” and “Discombobulated,” which all find similarity in Dr. Dre sculpting them himself. On the other hand, Eminem’s ventures in trap seem to have surprisingly paid off as “Gnat” and “These Demons” are some of the best backgrounds I’ve seen from the sub-genre recently. Even with all these memorable scores, “Book of Rhymes” still remains supreme as the Premo headlined set of beats work seamlessly against Eminem’s rightfully enraged bars. The most admirable component here are the endeavors within the abstract realm of noises, which can be best seen on the unorthodox “Alfred’s Theme”. Balancing things out, these ventures don’t always pay off as the pulsing drums of “Tone Deaf” ultimately feel like something a cheap night club DJ would play. Overall, the soundscape, mostly produced by Eminem, is a solid testament to his beat making skills.
In conclusion, Music Murdered By Side B is wholeheartedly a distasteful attempt to grab some extra cash from hip hops’ best selling name. After its predecessor’s success, I thought we would step further into the world many have fallen back in love with Em for but instead, we revert back to the worst moments of his rocky 24-year career. Going forward, I’m back to questioning if Eminem should retire once and for all, as with every album he releases, it seems like he’s only moving down the all-time great list.
- When he stays focused, tracks are really good
- Eminem proves he is still a solid producer
- Awesome to see Dr. Dre and Em back together
- Contains some of the best trap songs of the year
- Eminem cant stay focused on an idea for his life
- Too many generic love songs
- Most features are bad
- When bars are corny, they end up being some of his worst ever
- So inconsistent in every aspect of musical arrangement it hurts
Written by: Marc Dator
Scored and edited by: Marc Dator founder and owner of Fantastic Hip Hop