Will the real Slim Shady please stand up? Every album released after 2002’s The Eminem Show has featured Eminem rapping in different styles, rarely returning to the carefree freestyle form of his earlier records. Don’t get me wrong, I liked most of the later records – it just seemed like that era had been laid to rest. The rapid fire rhymes of yore had been replaced with earnest pop rap and cumbersome rants – both styles fearing a much slower vocal tempo. I hadn’t fallen off of the Eminem bandwagon, I simply had adjusted with the times and accepted who he had become. That’s why the 1st single from the forthcoming Marshall Mathers LP 2 is such a surprising delight.
Berzerk is the perfect song to reintroduce the world to Eminem after a 3 year absence. The track features samples of the Beastie Boys (from their Rick Rubin produced debut record) as well as Billy Squier’s The Stroke. The retro sound is positive intoxicating, leading some to call Eminem “the 4th Beastie Boy”. That’s also been a bone of contention for some folks, but to these ears the song is perfect. The Billy Squier sample lends it an 80’s, Run-D.M.C vibe. The best part of the track is Eminem’s rapid fire delivery, recalling my favorite era of his career (1999-2002). I love how he vividly makes the listener think of the show Ren & Stimpy, the hip hop group N.W.A., the artist da Vinci, and the show Breaking Bad in one verse: “The art of the MCing mixed with da Vinci and MC Ren / And I don’t mean Stimpy’s friend, bitch”. As if these positive points weren’t enough, the video offers up a hilarious visual representation. That’s Rick Rubin mugging for the camera alongside Eminem, making for an awkward (and funny) partnership. The radio featured so prominently in the video and single artwork is a nod to LL Cool J’s classic 1985 debut, Radio (produced by…you guessed it…Rick Rubin). All signs point towards a classic Eminem album coming soon, based on this single. Eminem has successfully marketed himself as an underdog, despite selling millions of records over the last 14 years. We’re all rooting for you Slim Shady.
Verdict: Return of the Real Slim Shady
For Fans of: Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Run-D.M.C, LL Cool J