He owned Hip-Hop ten years ago. Now he is in a world where Drake, Lil Wayne, and Kanye have taken his slot at the top. He released an okay album last year, yet his guest appearances got stronger and stronger as the year went on. Is Slim Shady back or is he just looking like Larry Holmes, flabby and sick? Without further ado…
1. “Cold Wind Blows”
What a way to start an album. The piano and baseline of this one screams Dr. Dre. Since all I have is a Grouprip without production credits, this is just an educated guess. In any event, this song finds Eminem in his form circa 2000, along with crazy ad libs and voiceovers from God. Gone are the annoying accents from Encore and Relapse. He basically tells us he is back and that if you don’t like it you can eat a big bowl of shit. So far so good. Is Eminem back?
2. “Talkin to Myself” ft. Kobe
Before you scratch your collective heads, nh, this is the Kobe from Fab’s single early this year, not Kobe Bryant. This track took a couple listens to grow on me. It’s a typical 2002-ish Eminem track, complete with guitar riff and lots of snares. Only Mr. Mathers can rap on a track like this one. He speaks of almost beefing with Wayne and Kanye, but he thought better of it because he didn’t want to get his ass handed to him. Surely this is just a Trojan horse. Regardless, this is another solid track. Em is in rare form soul-searching and explaining what he has been doing the last few years.
3. “On Fire”
Is this another Dr. Dre beat? Sounds like a production not good enough for the ever delayed Detox. This song begins with Eminem complaining about critics, of all things. Later he is dissing Brooke Hogan and David Cook and homeless people. Great. Only downside is the chorus.
4. “Won’t Back Down” ft. Pink
Pink??? This song actually leaked last week, and I thought it was meh at best, but hearing it in the context of the album it fits. This sounds not unlike the last song, but more White Stripes-ish. The young, auto-tuned Lil B fans may not like this, but they wouldn’t know about good music if it punched them in the face while they were sitting down. Pink fits this song fairly well. Solid track.
It wasn’t until the chorus that I figured out w.t.p stands for white trash party. This is a generic party song that is the worst on the album thus far, which probably makes it a commercial hit. Slim’s version of 50 Cent’s “In the Club.” Or maybe I’m still stuck in the early 2000s.
6. “Going Through Changes”
This follows in the trend of those other Eminem songs where he raps over old rock hits from people like Janis Joplin and Aerosmith. This time he raps over Black Sabbath’s “Changes,” obviously writing about how he has changed over the years. It just hit me that Shady is perhaps the most self-reflective rapper out right now. No way you can hate a song like this, unless you hate heartfelt honesty in a pop song.
7. “Not Afraid”
Is this the first Marshall album without a kiddy sing-songy first single?
Outside of “Superman,” I have never really enjoyed any song from Marshall about women. Except for K.I.M and Bonnie and Clyde, of course.
9. “No Love” ft. Lil Wayne
This is the first real song on the album that the young kids would like. That;s not surprising given that Lil Wayne is on it. Yes, this track samples the song from SNL where those two guys would nod their heads at that Roxbury club or what have you. I don’t think the kids even know what the hell that is, so no harm no foul. Eminem’s verse on this track is perhaps the best on the album so far. Not for nothing but this is the third track that Eminem and Lil Wayne are on together (Drake’s “Forever” and Wayne’s “Drop the World” are the other two) and the score is Eminem 3, Wayne 0.
10. “Space Bound”
Another 90s sounding rock track. “I’ma space bound rocket ship headed for the moon” the chorus goes. It sounds like something that would be on Natalie Imbruglia’s second album, nh. For those of you that spent your 90s in dorm rooms suffering from delusions of grandeur, listening to the radio and smoking weed, this song will be right up your alley.
11. “Cinderella Man”
Sounds like the handclaps from “We Will Rock You” were used as the foundation for this production. Em spits as usual, but I don’t like feeling like I’m at a Knicks game.
12. “25 to Life”
I said that song a few songs ago was Natalie Imbruglia sounding, well this one even more so. I’ll tell you one thing, this album is consistent with its sound. Very few albums nowadays. I don’t think anyone outside of Kanye even attempts to make a cohesive album anymore.
13. “So Bad”
You remember when I said I don’t buy the loverman Marshall? This is exhibit A. This song is aptly titled.
14. “Almost Famous”
Best. Song. On. Album.
15. “Love the Way You Lie” Ft. Rhianna
I would die of laughter if you told me beforehand that there would be three tracks sounding like Natalie Imbruglia on a Eminem album.
16. “You’re Never Over”
This is the dedication to Proof. R.I.P songs tend to be sappy and over-the-top. This is neither.
17. “Here We Go” (Bonus Track)
Sounds like this was a track left off of Slim Shady LP. A fitting ending.
Overall: This is Em’s Finest work since the Marshall Mathers LP. The music is very emotional driven. He lost the silly accents and regained his fire. After the last couple of albums I had my expectations very low, but this was a pleasant surprise. Eminem is back. Rating: 4.5/5