2020 started out with a surprise album from Detroit rapper Eminem. Anyone that has listened to Eminem knows that when he is on, he is on (Kamikaze, Slim Shady LP, Marshall Mathers LP, Slim Shady Show). The flipside is when his work is not top-notch he is perceived as falling off (Relapse, Recovery, Revival). Eminem seemed to respond to the critically panned Revival by bouncing back and spitting hot fire over two and a half albums. When Kamikaze came out it felt like Em was trying to prove a point that he is as good as he ever was. Earlier this year when the first part of Music To Be Murdered By was released I, and many others, marked out.
I marked out not only because I am an Eminem fan, but I am also into Alfred Hitchcock’s work. That album sounded to me like Em was starting to feel himself again, while also being able to try some different things that fell flat on Revival. While he featured some of the usual artists he works with, he also started to branch out with not only his style but who he featured. His use of the Hitchcock samples was perfect, there were maybe a couple of songs that were not for me, but the rest was fire. As a listener, both Kamikaze and the first Music To Be Murdered By sounded like Em was in classic form and had the hunger to prove his doubters wrong.
A week before Christmas Em dropped Music To Be Murdered By Side B. On their face, B side albums can tend to be rough, seemingly made up of songs from sessions for the first album that did not make it on for some reason. Music To Be Murdered By Side B does not quite fall into that trap, but I do not think it feels quite like it’s counterpart. The Hitchcock samples are still present on this album which I like. What I found when listening to this album is that the songs are good, but it just feels like an extension of the first album. There are 16 songs on this album, including the Hitchcock intro and interlude as well as an odd skit. When I finished the album, I thought five of the songs really stood out and the rest were more of the same. I do not say that in a bad way, but they just had the same feel that the first record had.
“Alfred’s Theme” stuck out because the beat is made up of samples cut from the intro to the Alfred Hitchcock show “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” “Tone Deaf” sounds like a classic Eminem beat and his flow on this song hooked me instantly. “Book of Rhymes” features DJ Premier and is easily the sleeper hit of the album. I was surprised by this song because I can usually tell a DJ Premier song just by hearing it, but even Premier sounds different on this. “Guns Blazing” features a Dr. Dre feature which is rare these days and always welcome. “Higher” has a hook that I found uplifting even though it could be a double/triple entendre. It goes “every time I think I hit my ceiling I go higher than I’ve ever fucking been.” The album ends with “Discombobulated” which sounds like it could easily have fit on The Slim Shady Show LP.
This album is not bad, but it also does not necessarily feel new. I think it is good this was released in two parts. If this would have come out as a double album, I think it would have tired fans out. Like when Blueprint 2 by Jay-Z came out there were some good songs on there, but they got buried by everything else, eventually leading to the release of Blueprint 2.5. If you are an Eminem fan you will enjoy this album, just do not go into it expecting anything that will blow you away. In my opinion, if he had picked the best songs off these two albums and released a solid 20-25 song record that would have killed.
What did you think about the record? What were your favorite songs? Let us know in the comments and as always visit what-the-buzz.com for all your entertainment news.