Eminem has come out of nowhere once again and dropped a new album without any warning. He did that in July 2018 with his album Kamikaze, which got bogged down in an old man yells at cloud type of approach to young rappers and the use of a gay slur against Tyler, The Creator, which thankfully has become taboo in rap now. Now he is back just 18 months later with a new album Music To Be Murdered By that comes with some heavy hitting features. Among those on the 20-track LP include Ed Sheeran, Anderson .Paak, a reuniting with Skylar Grey and Juice WRLD, who died tragically last month.
The album comes in seemingly two parts, with two intros and one final outro. Alfred Hitchcock and his only album of the same name, Music To Be Murdered By, inspired the album title and cover. That 1958 album features Hitchcock offering dry and dark humor between easy-listening instrumentals. Hitchcock’s bits from the 1958 album are revived on “Alfred,” the first couple lines of “Little Engine” and “Alfred (Outro).”
The opener takes on the critics, professional and otherwise, who have written him off as old, bitter and washed up. “They said my last album I sounded bitter, No, I sound like a spitter who ninety percent of these hypocrites are tryna get rid of,” he raps, “But why would I get a chip on my shoulder?, I was considered, one time, as the illest.”
He shockingly references Marshmello on “These Kinda Nights,” rapping about some superficial sexual encounter, “Gettin' head in the bucket, Marshmello.”
Fans will likely get a little emotional hearing Juice WRLD singing the hook on “Godzilla,” which features Eminem rapping at the speed of “Rap God” whimsically about sexual relations with various women.
The political awakening of Eminem continues on this album after his excoriation of Donald Trump after he released Kamikaze, which angered Mountain Dew America. On “Darkness” he makes his case for gun control in a vivid way.
He slows things down on the piano-led “Darkness,” where he takes the perspective of Stephen Paddock, the mass murderer / terrorist who opened fire from a Las Vegas casino on a country music festival, Route 91, killing 58 and injuring 869. The chilling track takes on America’s obsession with guns, ending with audio from news reports that repeat line about another deadly shooting or a school shooting with a new event each time where people were shot dead en masse. The video drives home the point.
He reunites with Skylar Grey on “Leaving Heaven,” which is decidedly less fun, radio-friendly and powerful than their track “Love The Way You Lie.” Then he descends into the gritty rap “Yah Yah,” with each of the rappers, Em, Black Thought, Q-Tip & Royce Da 5’9” all looking to one-up each others. If you want lyrical rap, this is for you.
He frequently references his own abusive childhood, bringing that to the fore at the intro “Stepdad,” where it sounds like some guy is beating a child. He then expounds on that relationship of an abusive stepdad and how he fantasized of getting rid of his hated stepdad after getting beaten over and over again.
The second half of the album sets aside the features at the start, looking at his own failings as a father, especially as a husband, apologizing on “Never Love Again,” before ending angry and mad at the world. His work with Anderson .Paak is good, but feels like it could have used a little extra funk on the beat and more rapping from .Paak. The beat really goes on “Farewell” as he faces his inner demons and an ex lover who he hates, but he hates more that he still loves her.
On "No Regrets,” he offers a half apology for insulting Tyler, The Creator & Earl Sweatshirt on Kamikaze, saying he was wrong to target them, “Misplacin' my anger enough to give Earl and Tyler, The Creator the brunt,” he raps, but also upset he allowed himself to get caught up in the hoopla after.
He unites with Royce Da 5’9” again on “I Will,” which also features KXNG Crooked & Joell Ortiz taking turns to murder the competition.
At 20 songs and over an hour, Eminem is not skimping fans on this new album. There were distant rumblings of him working on an album, which he treats as a 9 to 5. His brash and very forward wordplay is still there, examining his own demons with love, drugs and childhood abuse, while taking some shots at those who still doubt him.
His pleas for gun control will likely make national headlines and thrust him into shallow partisan debate (people want to marry their guns in the US), but it is a song that makes a powerful case for getting them off the street.
Stream the album below and get your copy here.