I feel like Eminem is one of the few rappers who needs no introduction, with a career spanning over 20 years and fans all over the world he is one of the most well known rappers ever. For anyone who is somehow unfamiliar with Eminem at this point, here is a simple summary. Eminem was born Marshall Mathers in Missouri in 1972. Em grew up rapping and started getting noticed when he came second in the ‘Rap Olympics’ battle rap competition in 1997. Shortly after he released his ‘Slim Shady EP’, which caught the attention of Interscope. The EP was then passed on to Produced Dr Dre, who liked what he heard and signed Eminem to Aftermath. He released the ‘Slim Shady LP’ in 1999, the ‘Marshall Mathers LP’ in 2000, and ‘The Eminem Show’ In 2002, all of which did massive first week sales and have been certified multiple times platinum. Em went on to release ‘Encore’ In 2004 & a greatest hits album titled ‘Curtain Call’ In 2005, another 2 extremely popular and generally received albums. In May of 2009 after a few years off Em returned with ‘Relapse’ and then followed it up with a deluxe version in December, and then in 2010 dropped another album ‘Recovery’. Despite these releases being less well received, they still sold extremely well. In 2011 Em linked up with Royce Da 5’9 for their Bad Meets Evil album, and then in 2013 Em dropped his next solo album ‘Marshall Mathers LP 2’. After spending a few years focusing on other endeavours such as his ‘Shady Records’ label, Em once again made a comeback of sorts in 2017 with the release of ‘Revival’, and followed that up with the 2018 release ‘Kamikaze’. Although Eminem’s Music has gotten mixed reviews throughout his career, there is no doubt he is one of the most popular and well known artists in the world.
And now you should be caught up! On January 17th 2020 Eminem surprise dropped his new album ‘Music To Be Murdered By’. The album features 20 tracks total, a range of features from both new and frequent collaborators, and had no promotion in the lead up to release. Along with the album Em dropped 2 music videos which I’ll include links to at the bottom. Below I’ll review the album in 2 parts, firstly an informal and unedited track by track review, and then secondly will be my views on the album as a whole. I’ll included links to stream the project and some discussion questions at the bottom. Enjoy!
Track By Track Review
1. Premonition (Intro) – Real eerie best, love the female backing vocals. The singing section towards the start is really nice too. Eminem’s flow is real nice for the most part. Impressive rhyme schemes and bars such as “as fly as your zipper”. Some interesting synths throughout the song. Solid intro
2. Unaccommodating (ft. Young M.A) – Young M.A sounds amazing, great deliveries, solid flows and some hilarious bars. One of my favourite Young M.A verses ever. Eminem flows great again, changes it up a bit and his fast flows sound real clean. Some more good quotables too, great Eminem verse. The beat is kinda simple, but it works alright with this song as it has no proper hook or structure to it. Great song
3. You Gon’ Learn (ft. Royce Da 5’9 & White Gold) – Beat is amazing, real grandiose, drowns out the vocals a bit at times though. Royce starts out his verse super strong with an impressive flow and some ridiculous rhyme schemes and assonance. Whole verse is super impressive, spits some solid bars and changes up his flow a bunch. Loved the pitched up vocal sample in the beat. Eminem’s flow is great at times but average at others, lots more great bars and rhymes though. His verse gets better as it goes on. The White Gold hook is catchy but isn’t too exiting. Decent song
4. Alfred (interlude) – Spoken Skit, is quick and enjoyable, glad it is a separate track.
5. Those Kinda Nights (ft. Ed Sheeran) – Real hard hitting bass heavy beat, love it. Solid flows and some funny bars from Eminem, not too corny. Love the beat change to the hook, sounds real pleasant. Ed Sheeran sounds amazing on the hook, a real beautiful melody, catchy and a good change up from the verses sonically. All 3 of Em’s verses are real enjoyable with great storytelling and heaps of quotables. Great song
6. In The Deep – Beat is quite poppy, and sounds too overcrowded at times. Eminem’s flows aren’t too impressive here. The bars are a bit corny but the storytelling and rhymes are great. Hook is a bit lame. Average track
7. Godzilla (ft. Juice Wrld) – Amazing flows and rhymes from Em straight out the gate. Real impressive technically in every way on the first verse. Best is fantastic too, love the 808’s. Juice Wrld’s hook is really solid, super catchy and just a really enjoyable melody. Eminem’s second verse is fire too, changes up his delivery a bit in it than the first. Third verse is somehow the best of the bunch, absolutely insane flows, rhymes and bars, some of Eminem’s best rapping in the last 10 years . Amazing song all round
8. Darkness – Not a fan of Eminem’s slow flow on this one. Some good lyrics, gets personal in the verses, flows and delivery just aren’t exciting though. Hook is kinda nice but kinda boring at the same time. Beat is basic. Wasn’t feeling this one
9. Leaving Heaven (ft Skyler Grey) – I like the pleasant guitar, drums are a bit abrasive though, sounds like they’re mixed too loud. Eminem has a decent flow and delivery on the first verse, some decent bars too. Second verse has some more solid bars but the flows aren’t too impressive a majority of the time, ends great though. Skylar Grey hook is just her usual contribution, sounds nice but also real poppy, not her best. Third verse wasn’t too special. Not a fan of this one
10. Yah Yah (ft. Royce Da 5’9, Q-Tip, dEnAun, & Black Thought) – ODM Shimmy Ya vibes, great beat, but kinda drowns our the vocals again. Real impressive feature from Royce again, more solid flows and rhyme schemes. Q-Tip sounds so smooth on this, has a real pleasant little contribution. Is an interesting but enjoyable hook overall. Black Thought comes through with this hungry high energy delivery and confident flows, full of insane rhymes, quotables and metaphors, ridiculous verse. Eminem holds his own, some real enjoyable flows and delivery from him on this, loads of funny bars too. Actually an amazing verse, maybe the best but it’s tough. Actually love this beat though, but is just a touch too loud. Amazing track
11. Stepdad (Intro) – Spoken little skit introducing the theme of the next track. Grateful this is separate, smart play
12. Stepdad – Basic best but changes up enough it isn’t too bad. Some great storytelling, but lyrics are a mix of corny and triumphant. Isn’t a bad track but not my vibe. Em rides the beat super well. Hook is lame but in a good way, like you wanna sing along and feel on top of the world. Okay song
13. Marsh – Real enjoyable simple beat, love the piano during the verses and the hard hitting bass. Verses are real solid too, start off kinda slow but get better and better as they progress, lots of impressive flows and rhymes. Some questionable bars here and there but they’re always surrounded by great flows or solid bars. Hook is decent, quite catchy. Good song
14. Never Love Again – Real beautiful instrumentation on this one, lovely production. Hook is a bit corny lyrically but is actually a real catchy and well constructed hook. Em’s slow flow sounds great on this, some amazing bars within too. Crazy beat change in the second hook to this insane synth heavy beat. Em changes up his flows and lyrical theme accordingly, with faster flows and lyrics revolving around a chaotic distaste for love as opposed to the more optimistic lyrics earlier on. Interesting and enjoyable track
15. Little Engine – Real intriguing beat, some super strange synths, love them though. Em rides the beat with ease. Bass thumps at times. Some really funny bars. Enjoyable hook, quite strange too though. This is just a super fun listen all the way through, real different. Sounds like old Em, great song
16. Lock It Up (ft. Anderson.Paak) – Captivating beat, really draws you in. Paak sounds like a boss on this, super infectious delivery with some impressive flows too. Good transition to Em, loved how he flowed over this beat. Great transition back to Paak for the hook, hook is fantastic, just a real vibe. Ems second verse is decent but not his best, just average flows and bars. Overall a decent song, think this will grow on me
17. Farewell – Has a real poppy vibe but Em is actually quite enjoyable on the first verse. Hook is a bit lame, and the beat is super simple, real beachy vibes. Second verse is fairly decent too, basic bars and flows but sounds great over the beat. Average song, on the fence
18. No Regrets (ft. Don Toliver) – Great vocals from Don, matches by some thumping bass that sounds fantastic. Eminem’s first verse is super impressive, great rhyme schemes, flow and bars. Love the is of the ‘No Regrets’ vocals from the hook during the verses. Second verse is nice too, some average flows but it’s a majority enjoyable, loads more impressive rhymes. The hook is really nice sonically but isn’t too amazing overall. Good song
19. I Will (ft. KXNG Crooked, Royce Da 5’9 & Joell Ortiz) – Crooked rides the beat with ease, lots of impressive bars and rhymes of his own. Em’s Hook is real nice, is simple but effective. Royce has a super exciting delivery here, still drops some ridiculous flows and bars too, amazing verse. Joell sounds fantastic, hungry delivery and holds his own lyrically and flow wise against the others. Em’s verse was technically impressive but my least favourite, sounds like it was ghostwritten by Hopsin at times. Still a real enjoyable track
20. Alfred (outro) – Spoken outro, good closing, wraps it all up.
Overall I came out of my first listen of ‘Music To Be Murdered By’ super impressed, and overall view the project as being a thoroughly enjoyable listen and Eminem’s best album in years. Out of 20 songs total I enjoyed 10 without any doubt, 3 were skits, and there were another 3 I was on the fence about, so with only 4ish songs that I found unenjoyable this turned out to be far more good than bad.
I think the production as a whole was very impressive in its own right, with Eminem rapping over a whole range of different beats throughout the album. There are a variety of different vibes going on in this album, so it lacks any sort of cohesion, but I think this actually works in the albums favour. With Eminem not focusing on a single sound or a specific topic it allowed him to flex his talents on a range of sonically different instrumentals, giving us an end product that was more like a grab bag where you can pick and choose the right songs for the right playlists or moods. The beat on the Ed Sheeran collaboration ‘Those Kinda Nights’ is amazing, and fits both artists perfectly with a subtle change in the beat between the Eminem verses and Ed hooks. The beat switch in ‘Never Change Again’ was amazingly executed and one of my favourites in years. The beat on ‘Little Engine’ would have to be one of the most interesting and experimental instrumentals Em has ever rapped over, and his does it so effortlessly. Often though it was the subtle touches in the production that made songs pop; the guitar in ‘Leaving Heaven’, the piano in ‘Marsh’ and the hard hitting bass in songs such as ‘Godzilla’ & ‘No Regrets’. My only criticism in terms of the production is that the mixing seemed off at times, with the production drowning out the vocals.
Eminem himself was at his best at certain times during this album, with some of his most impressive flows, bars and rhyme schemes of his career, with the only real problem being inconsistency. For the most part Em was impressive, with quotable bars and metaphors on every track, some insane showcases of technical ability in terms of flows and interesting rhyme schemes, and even a range of great hooks (which has never been his strong point). I think there were many standout moments for Em on this project, but the most memorable after one listen was his rapping on ‘Godzilla’ and how he stepped up the intensity as the song progressed. My main criticism of Em is just his consistency in terms of flows, with a few songs having flows that just sounded weak or weren’t delivered as well as most. I feel Em tries to incorporate as many flows as possible into his songs and albums, so there are bound to be a couple flows that don’t sound too great.
I thought the features were another impressive part of this album, with almost all of them delivering an impressive and memorable performance. I loved what both Don Toliver & Anderson.Paak bought to their respective tracks ‘No Regrets’ & ‘Lock It Up’, each providing some pleasant melodies to compliment Eminem’s performance on the tracks. I thought the Ed Sheeran hook on ‘Those Kinda Nights’ was super catchy and one of the best on the album. I was impressed by the feature verses by artists such as Black Thought, Joell Ortiz & Royce Da 5’9 (all 3). The only feature I could have done without was Skyler Grey, but I just didn’t like that track too much to begin with so wouldn’t really matter.
So in summary, a great album and personally a great return to form from Eminem. With 20 tracks there’s bound to be some filler, but with so many enjoyable tracks, so many of which sound quite different, I’d be surprised if you didn’t find any tracks you liked on here. That being said, if you’ve ever been a fan of Eminem in the past I’d highly recommend giving this a listen, I’m sure you’ll find some amazing tracks that capture that ‘Old Eminem’ magic.
Alternatively you can listen to it for free on YouTube here!
My favourite songs were Premonition (Intro), Unaccommodating, Those Kinda Nights, Godzilla, Yah Yah, Never Love Again, Little Engine, No Regrets & I Will.
What were your favourite songs from the album?
Did you like this more or less than his last album, Kamikaze?
Thanks For Reading!
– Shan –