On November 24, Shady XV was released after months of cryptic advertising with a hashtag of the same name by Eminem. I, for one, was mostly surprised Eminem could operate Twitter well enough to dream up such a scheme.
The rapper is 42, after all. This is his ninth studio album, and he not only raps in it but also produced it under Shady Productions.
The album is comprised of two discs: a “Greatest Hits” of Shady Production artists featuring 50 Cent and Obie Trice, as well as a disc of all new material with Slaughterhouse, Yelawolf and Big Sean, to name a few.
Shady XV is not awful. It is also not filled with the type of music that made Eminem famous. The style is there, but the message, and frankly coherence, is gone, giving the album a tone of irrational anger.
Take the single “Guts Over Fear,” for example. This song is very reminiscent of “The Monster,” except Sia replaces Rihanna, so it is much worse. In his first verse, Eminem spits: “Sometimes I feel like all I ever do is/ Find different ways to word the same, old song,” and this already-been-done feel is apparent throughout the record. The lyrics, though not as mind-bogglingly meaningless as ones later on the album, detail his rise to fame but lack the old hustle consistent with that journey.
In “Detroit vs. Everybody,” Eminem raps with Royce Da 5’9″, Big Sean, Danny Brown, Dej Loaf and Trick Trick on the struggles of inner-city life. Eminem’s style is undeniable in this song. Each beat is filled to the syllable to the point where just listening can leave you breathless. However, the five other artists on the track seem to beat Eminem at his own game, overshadowing him on an album he produced. Not surprisingly, this is one of the better tracks on the album.
Perhaps this track is indicative of a larger trend with Eminem: his irrelevance. While his style is original and his career revolutionary, he is simply obsolete in comparison to such trending artists as Childish Gambino and Kanye West.
The prolific and game-changing 15 years Eminem has contributed to the rap industry are not to be forgotten but rather commemorated, as the title “Shady XV” suggests. With that said, I for one am not looking forward to the “15 more” Slim Shady has promised.