Shady’s back? …again?
Eminem’s most recent release, Music To Be Murdered By, came as a complete surprise to fans when he unexpectedly dropped the twenty-track record mid-January. While the surprise may have offered fans a short burst of adrenaline, the album itself leaves quite a bit to be desired. Although Music To Be Murdered By does provide listeners with a few small echoes of the potential that made Eminem so exceptional in the first place, it is also hopelessly overcome with the same challenges that have dragged him down for over a decade.
Eminem has shown listeners time and time again that his lyrical abilities are nothing to be questioned. However, at this point in his career, these abilities are becoming more of a handicap than anything else. No one is denying the man has inhuman rhyming capabilities and can speak at the same rate that a hummingbird flies, but what seems to let audiences down is Eminem‘s sheer lack of growth. This cause for concern is most visible in his lack of personal and lyrical insight, as well as with his exhausted productions. Despite his verbal and rhythmic mastery, Eminem’s failure to evolve in any real musical sense ultimately leaves fans with the same stomp and clap tracks like “Leaving Heaven” and “Stepdad” that have composed the majority of Mather’s sound over the last decade.
While Eminem may be an extremely talented artist, how many times can he truly expect audiences to eat up another soft-rock-rap album surrounding massive socio-political issues, while simultaneously introducing a host of others? While Mathers has obviously developed the persona of an antagonist within the industry— ranging from his general combativeness with other artists to his common, highly descriptive references to murder—it comes at a rate that is just not on par with the demands of today’s audience. Eminem has never been known for being politically correct in any sense of the word; the vernacular within Music To Be Murdered By is no exception.
Some of the hardest hitting tracks of the album, like “Godzilla,” “Yah Yah” and “Lock It Up” seem to only reach such heights due to their heavy incorporations of featured artists such as Royce Da 5’9”, Q-Tip, Black Thought, Anderson .Paak and the recently deceased Juice WRLD. Although in “In Too Deep,” we see Eminem venturing into a far more subdued feel— one of which fans seldom see him explore— and this, as well as “Farewell,” just go to further that Eminem is not hitting the mark. From his general disregard for any political correctness surrounding women to his undeniably lackluster verses, this track feels like it could have easily been left off of the album. While the production on tracks such as “Those Kinda Nights” and “Little Engine” do their best to harken back to the glory days of Eminem and Dr. Dre—drawing stylistic elements from the 90s and early 2000s—it simply does not demonstrate enough of any progression in Eminem’s career, forward or back.
Despite the album’s attempts at a cohesive theme, its incorporation of Alfred Hitchcock-laden interludes is simply not enough to pull together the innumerable directions Eminem attempts to take this album in. While there are definitely solid moments on the record, so too are they fleeting. Sadly, while it could be argued that Eminem has made some progress in regards to his most recent releases, it feels as though this continuum of stagnation may remain for quite some time.