January 18, 2020

Eminem - Music To Be Murdered By Review

Eminem - Music To Be Murdered By Review

Eminem - Music To Be Murdered By Album Review

Marshall Mathers is in the unique position of reaching legendary status at a young age over 20 years ago. Since then, he has faced a tougher uphill battle to stay relevant and top himself more than any other artist today, and subsequently, receives more criticism for any release that is anything less than brilliant or extraordinary. His anger hasn't changed, and his subject matter might feel stale, but his fire wit, lyrical spit, and storytelling remain as jaw-dropping, and arguably, sharper than ever before with his second surprise album in two years, Music To Be Murdered By.

As a title (borrowed directly from a previous 1958 album), Eminem does not leave anything free from double meanings, as this relentless diss record is a satisfying listen as it murders all the Nick Cannons of the world. Slim's traumas from his childhood (in Stepdad) come back to haunt him, and his current troubles are still on the surface as he testifies his rage for the critics who want to bring him down. According to Mathers, that struggle is real, and is documented in his opening track, Premonition, "They said I'm lyrically amazing but I have nothing to say, But then when I put out Revival and I had something to say, They said that they hated the awake me, I lose the rage, I'm too tame, I get it back, they say I'm too angry," as he pulls the curtains back on the critics who can't be pleased by his two preceding offerings, Revival and Kamikaze. As an artist, his latest output has been pretty incredible, releasing the former in 2017, and the latter as a direct response to Revival's criticism, as a surprise album only a year later. The hook in Premonition burns and the heavy and dark beat rides out, but it hardly is the hardest track of the album. Unaccommodating, featuring Young M.A., is the first track to hit home Em's unapologetic wordplay, and it is displayed at a hyper-speed that only rewards with multiple spins. You Gon' Learn, featuring Royce da 5'9" and White Gold, has a fazed-out R&B soaked hook, and its glitchy staccato production is standout here.

By the time we get to the first of only a couple of interludes, we are introduced to the overarching idea that ties this album together, in concept, title, and artwork, in Alfred (Interlude). Citing the 1958 album of the same name (Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Music To Be Murdered By), this direct successor comments on the violence that persists in our culture and our nation. Before we get to Darkness though, we have the party track Those Kinda Nights and the unrequited love song In Too Deep. Godzilla works as another speed-running lyrical feat; it feels like Shady has never sounded faster at the mic than in this one, even by Kamikaze standards. Darkness now, is the most thought-provoking work Eminem has released in a while. Still interweaving-in thoughts of violence and anger, this track wasn't meant to make you feel safe. Some might get shocked, some might get triggered, but no matter whether you fall on the left or the right or somewhere in between, everyone should agree that the persistence of mass shootings in our world must come to an end. Eminem does this track from inside the mind of the Las Vegas massacre shooter. While this effort essentially immortalizes the suspect, its case is one of the most disturbing, as a man with no prior convictions and no history of mental illness just didn't want to "feel alone in the darkness anymore,” which makes this crisis even more difficult to address. In a sense, this song is about reconnecting with loved ones, and the need to feel more together and connected, but it is executed in horrific fashion as one of the consequences of the crushing loneliness in this world. Ultimately, Eminem's conviction for these acts of violence to end is a standout moment and commendable if listeners can get past the shock value, something he has ingrained throughout his entire career.

Beyond this single there are a number of other sharp, brutal, and tongue-in-cheek songs that you would expect, such as Stepdad, about Marshall’s experience growing up with an abusive father figure, Marsh, an amusing moment of feeling not of this world, and Never Love Again, a double meaning of a past love and getting clean off of prescription pills. Little Engine brings in Mr. Hitchcock once again as he reminds us that we should enjoy the music while we’re being “done in” by Shady’s lyrical lacerations. It’s a spiffy, classical horror sounding track, and Shady shows off as a speed demon who refuses to slow down. Lock It Up, Farewell, No Regrets, and I Will construct the album’s coda, and it’s a give-or-take acceptable ending in an album full of great moments interspersed throughout familiar territory.

Music To Be Murdered By is full of double meanings, interesting wordplay, and familiar, but well-executed themes. Eminem, Shady, or Marshall, either alter ego or persona delivers, and this latest rendition should probably go down as the best of the trio of LPs that have been released thus far. Eminem is ultimately right, as he states in his opening track, "Instead of us being credited for longevity, And being able to keep it up for this long at this level, we, Get told we'll never be what we were, B*tch, if I was as half as good as I was, I'm still twice as good as you'll ever be." Whether Eminem decides to take up tougher subjects in this new decade remains to be seen, but until then, he’s released a worthy follow-up that should go down as a pin in the cultural zeitgeist of where we are today.

Music To Be Murdered By - 8.5/10

Recommended Tracks: You Gon' Learn, Darkness, Lock It Up