‘Rap God’ Eminem has released a compilation album, ‘Shady XV’, celebrating 15 years since the creation of Shady Records.
It features a disc of old hit songs and a disc of new material, and although it provides some of the most lyric-bashing music of the year, the final result is much more flawed and inconsistent than it should be.
Shady Records has been responsible for putting out the works of 50 Cent, Obie Trice and D12 that this compilation celebrates on the second disc with some of their most memorable tracks.
However, with a lot of changes in the label, Eminem is ready to boast the vast array of new talent he’s recently signed that he aptly calls ‘Shady 2.0’.
The crew has a few vital players missing; there is no other rap ‘superstar’ now that 50 Cent has left the label and D12 have become practically non-existent.
However, to call these new artists up-and-comers in hip-hop would be gravely insulting; Slaughterhouse and Yelawolf have gained large followings due to their lyrical intensity.
Eminem opens up with the track ‘Shady XV’ where he aggressively raps with the comedic cartoon violence we expect of him to create a song Eminem calls ‘classic rock acid rap’.
Like his single ‘Berzerk’ from last year, Billy Squier is sampled to get a unique crunching guitar beat and Eminem cracks jokes at himself for large portions of the song – even rapping a few bars in his old high pitched voice.
For the most part his double entendre jokes work, including a crude one with ‘Monster’ collaborator Rihanna.
Eminem’s self-reflecting critiques of himself make for a fairly interesting listen, but on lead single ‘Guts over Fear’, Eminem admits he’s no longer as creative and original with his music, which is a point that is confirmed on the rest of the album.
As far as Eminem’s other solo songs are concerned, they mostly deal with Eminem’s romantic trauma and his psychotic nature tainting future relationships.
It makes for some interesting content, yet ‘Die Alone’ feels very disjointed as Kobe’s passionately sung chorus is mixed badly with an extremely weak and disinteresting beat that fits awkwardly with Eminem’s motor-mouth flow.
‘Right For Me’ and ‘Fine Line’ are much superior as his wordplay takes centre stage.
The latter track has simple bouncy piano keys through most of the song that goes extremely well with Eminem’s pinch-nerve flow but again he recycles the topic of fame.
As far as the rest of the label goes, Slaughterhouse member Royce da 5’9” impresses most with stellar wordplay over the most menacing cut on the album ‘Psychopath Killer’ as well as having arguably the best verse on the long awaited ‘Detroit vs Everybody’ song.
Both the songs work best on the album due to the fitting instrumentals and a diversity of talented emcees that all have a strong presence on the microphone.
Slaughterhouse sound very fresh on ‘Y’all ready Know’ over some classic DJ Premier production with a sampled hook with scratching and simple effective piano keys throughout the song.
Out of the two Yelawolf solo tracks, ‘Till it’s Gone’ comes off best with lyrics about no longer being an underdog and he also fits like a glove with his hook on ‘Psychopath Killer’.
There are some very low points on the album too, take the first D12 song in a very long time – ‘Bane’.
Despite having an interesting beat reminiscent of El-P, the simple auto tuned hook simply downplays the lyricism and beat in such a way that it can’t compare with the lyricism on the rest of the album.
‘Twisted’ sees Eminem and Skylar Grey singing a duet whilst Yelawolf’s rapping feels out of place here, resulting in a pop experiment gone wrong that doesn’t belong on a compilation album.
Throughout this project Eminem is desperately trying to show that no one has conquered the art of rapping more than him.
He backs this up with a variety and complexity of flows so sublime and overbearing that sometimes the production and beat becomes close to being obsolete.
Topically, he unfortunately emphasizes his point on lead single ‘Guts over Fear’; his content feels too recycled and outdated to the rest of society.
So regardless of how proficient his rapping skills are, he’s unable to create as impactful music as he has done before.
Overall, ‘Shady XV’ will please Eminem fans due to the lyrical battering throughout most of the album.
However as far as putting light on his newly signed artists he perhaps doesn’t give them enough time to impress as a compilation album should – Joe Budden and Joell Ortiz only get one verse each.
However, even if this compilation tells us more about Eminem than the artists under him, fans of Eminem will thoroughly enjoy Shady XV’s package of supreme lyrical punch that makes for some of the most technically impressive material all year.