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EMINEM Music To Be Murdered By gets 5.5/10


Music to be Murdered By


Eminem has been at the top of the hip hop game for over two decades now. Yet despite his enduring popularity, the Detroit rapper’s most recent album Music to be Murdered By (released without warning this month, just as 2018’s Kamikaze was) is characterised by Eminem’s tunnel-focused vision about the world hating him and that for one of the greats of the game, he should be acknowledged as such – something Eminem clearly does not feel is the current state of play.

The album’s title is inspired by director Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956’s music album of the same name, but a connection between the title and the Hitchcock interludes used on the album is thin. If this is supposed to be a ‘concept album’ then adding an element of the concept to each track would have been an idea, but obviously not something that Eminem was ultimately concerned with.

So who or what is to be murdered by this music is unclear, and this lack of clarity is particularly present on opening track, Premonition – Intro, as Eminem cites that “ninety percent of these hypocrites are trying to get rid of” him, even though he “sell(s) like four mill when I put out a bad album”. He takes aim at critics’ for the recent low reviews, but even he asks ‘why should I get a chip on my shoulder?” over this. Well, yes, exactly. One can’t help but wonder that a man of Eminem’s experience and age should be able to take comfort in his own self-confidence in his ill skills and lyrical dexterity, rather than battling with critics and a righteous anger that he will not always be the centre of the music and fame worlds.

However, as we all know, Eminem didn’t get to where to he is without a certain level of insight, and when this is combined with his desire to show off his GOAT skills, there are some real winners. The highlight of the album is Darkness, a song where Eminem inserts himself into the mind of the 2017 Las Vegas shooter, and his authenticity as this character is nothing short of scary. The track closes with news reports of recent school shootings, forming a cogent and rather poignant gun-control message, something that very few artists are willing to opine on.

Elsewhere, Eminem’s choice of features provide him with new sonic territories to explore and these allow him to sound as fresh as ever. Godzilla, featuring the late Juice Wrld, is an epic banger. With a beat not dissimilar to Kendrick’s HUMBLE, Juice Wrld’s mumbled choruses act as a perfect antidote to Em’s flow. And boy, does Eminem flow; as the song enters its outro he just gets faster and faster, spitting some of the quickest bars that he has ever recorded.

Little Engine follows closely behind Godzilla, and features a tremendous grooved beat that suits Eminem hand in glove. His depiction of himself as the little engine that could is far more accurate than his characterisation as someone who “more people love… than hate”. A really unique cut is Yah Yah, which brings together four featured artists, Royce da 5’9”, Black Thought, Q-Tip and Mr Porter, together over a boom-bap beat that drops Busta Rhymes’ 1996 hit Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check as its hook.

The worst track on the album is the car crash that is Ed Sheeran’s feature Those Kinda Nights. Eminem refers back to his D12 days, detailing immature and juvenile hijinks while out on the town, along with some of his poorer lines; “blow on me and I’ll go out like a candle” is just one example, and these lines are incongruent with Sheeran’s polished chorus. It’s as if the two recorded their parts separately, someone spliced them together and then neither artist had a chance to hear the finished product. In Too Deep is also a remarkable miss, a slowed down ballad that leaves Eminem sounding corny and inauthentic.

Ultimately, Music to be Murdered By is a mixed bag; some of it is good, some of its terrible, but ultimately it is a rewarding listen due to Eminem’s ability to use his vocal dexterity as the murder weapon. There is enough tracks here to justify the release, and thankfully, they show Em’s desire to rap is not just based on reclaiming his status in the fame world, or lack thereof, but his desire to once again be crowned King of the game.


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