Smoke and Mirrors

Marshall Mathers released his 8th full-length studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, on November 5th, this past Tuesday. It is a sequel, or rather an alleged continuation, of The Marshall Mathers LP, his most successful record, which I consider to be the greatest rap album of all time. I’ll use this Blogcat to provide my opinions on the recent release, albeit in a format different than what you’d normally expect from an album review. Welcome to the “Marshall Mathers LP 2 Power Rankings,” everybody!

Essentially, what I’d like to do is briefly give my overall thoughts on the CD, and then dive into my tiered rankings of how relatively good each song is, worst to best; if you think I stole this from Bill Simmons, you’d only be half wrong. I’ll then finish with some disjointed comments, as well as various awards, since that strikes me as something fun to do. At least that’s the plan. Also, this is my longest Blogcat ever, so buckle up.

As a whole, I found the album pretty damn… underwhelming. Disappointing. Discouraging. Disheartening. Not incredibly so, I will admit. It wasn’t all bad, for sure. There were definitely some highlights. About half the songs were solid, and some were complete delights. But as I now hone in my listening to the songs that I thoroughly enjoy, I can’t forget this undeniable fact: this is not what I was hoping for. There’s some substance, yes, but too much of it is “smoke and mirrors.”

Look, I understand that I have impossibly high expectations. I hold Y2K-era Eminem up on a pedestal, to the point that if he came out with the same exact content nowadays, I’d have some bones to pick and would claim it didn’t quite stack up. But I can still reconcile that fact with knowing that Eminem’s music just isn’t nearly as good anymore. We still see flashes of that brilliance, but it’s now a rarity instead of an inevitability.

Consider the dramatic difference in the following lines, produced 13 years apart (good god, its been that long??). Marshall, back in 2000, churned out absolute, diabolical genius on every single line. Here he shows his wizardry on Dead Wrong:

“There’s several different levels of Devil worshiping/
Horse’s heads, human sacrifices, cannibalism/
candles and exorcism/
Animals, having sex with them/
camels, mammals and rabbits/

But I don’t get into that, I kicked the habit/”

Goodness gracious, Slim. Those lines make me giddy every single time, even now. So casual! He’s not even bragging about how bonkers he is. And he turns these horrible, unimaginable acts into something so mundane like a habit. Analogous to biting your nails. He’s so demonic you can’t even conceptualize the level he’s on, and yet the next moment he’s looking back at you in the mirror. That was the brilliance of Slim Shady. And this wasn’t even on his own album!

Now look at him in 2013 on Survival:

I must be/
allergic to failure cause every time I come close to it I just sneeze/
but I just go atchoo then achieve!/”

That shit is downright corny, and it pisses me off. Since when did Eminem turn into a motivational speaker about whose inspirational messaging your mom might write you a thoughtful email? Sigh.

Well, good thing I’m on a roll with being resentful, because we’re moving on to the power rankings portion of this piece, and these first few tracks are about to get it.

“I got a list, here’s the order of my list that it’s in” …..

I’m Sorry, There Must Be a Mix-Up

For this Blogcat, I listened to the full album several times through and then every individual song on its own while reading and parsing the lyrics. Doing so for these first two was excruciating.

16. Stronger Than I Was – God damn it, I hate this song so much. It would be the hands-down worst track on the album if #15 weren’t making that race so competitive. In fact, this is quickly making its case for my least favorite on-an-album Eminem song of all time. After a quick scanning of Eminem’s full discography, I think that’s sadly the case. Also, holy shit, was Encore a terrible album.

Here’s the deal. I’m not someone who thinks Eminem can’t sing. He’s alright. He sings on Hailie’s Song, for example, and that track is great. It’s just not the draw of his music. In the same way, Andrew Bynum can probably make a three-point shot in an empty gym. He just shouldn’t really be launching treys from the top of the key during professional competitions. Similarly, Eminem’s allowed to sing here and there, usually on a hook, but he just can’t carry five minute dirges by solely relying on his vocals.

The description of this song on Rap Genius reads, “This song is also clearly Kim’s response to Eminem’s song on MMLP “Kim”, in which he kills her. This song is everything that she felt about what he said about her throughout their lives and through his songs. It’s the polar opposite of the violent and heavy MMLP track.”

First, I like the description’s staunch characterization of the song, juxtaposed with people arguing in the comments about whether or not its actually from Kim’s perspective. I find that funny. However, no matter which interpretation you prefer, it’s perfectly opposed thematically to my beloved MMLP. On that album, the song Kim, despite being one that I typically skip over (it’s so aggressively violent it usually makes me uncomfortable), is actually good. It’s also aptly characterized as a MURDER BALLAD. This sister version is basically an Apology Ballad. Fuck that. Eminem owes us an apology for making it.

15. Headlights – This song is not only terrible, but also a complete tease. In the first few seconds, you’re tricked into thinking “oh, it’s about to be fucking ON.” Some eerie sound effects come in, darkening the scene and building the tension. Then the super sad, slow piano falls into place, quickly accompanied by some androgynous serenading, and your world crumbles.

Check out these lines from my favorite Eminem song, Kill You:

“Shut up slut, you’re causing too much chaos!/
Just bend over and take it like a slut, okay ma?/
“Oh, now he’s raping his own mother/
abusing a whore, snorting coke, and we gave him the Rolling Stone cover?”/
You goddamn right bitch, and now it’s too late/”

Now look at these lines from Headlights, another apologetic travesty:

“I’m mad I didn’t get the chance
To thank you for being my mom and my dad”

WHO IS THIS? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE RAPPER THAT I LOVED. Yes, Marshall, we’re all so proud of you for growing up and maturing. It’s just so wonderful that you’re finally at peace with your relationship with your mother…. except it makes your music blow.

Please go click the above link for this song and read the comments section. It sickens me. People apparently cried when they heard this song. Many referred to it as beautiful. Some even asserted that it was the best song on the CD. Are these people insane? Were they even fans of his original material?

If you like this type of song, I guess that’s fine? But that’s beside the point. Think about it like this. Let’s imagine that you’re at a restaurant and you order a cheeseburger, because that’s what you love to eat. The waiter instead brings you a salmon salad. It could be the greatest salmon salad of all time. The problem is, that’s not what you wanted, and you hate salmon, and salad.

With these last two songs, Eminem is giving us his best salmon salad, and you might like his salmon salad. But I don’t. I want a fucking burger.

I Work a Sweat For This Worthless Check

14. Asshole – I won’t spend time here criticizing this song’s lyrical content, even though I absolutely could. Really, this song is just so unappealing, musically. The hook is lame, and the beat does nothing. Putting a focus on lyrics is great (though here, ineffective), but this song seems to completely sacrifice the musical side of things. It’s especially egregious since the flow isn’t catchy at all. It’s like a homeless man’s version of Medicine Ball.

Basically, this song is completely anonymous. When it comes on, I end up tuning out until Berzerk bursts in. That’s not ideal.

Lastly, this song serves as a perfect microcosm of a recent trend in Eminem’s music: he’s working really hard, and it’s obvious. That never used to be the case. Think about a classic sequence from My Name Is:

“I’m not ready to leave, it’s too scary to die/
I’ll have to be carried inside the cemetery and buried alive/
Am I coming or going? I can barely decide/
I just drank a fifth of vodka, dare me to drive?/
All my life I was very deprived/
I ain’t had a woman in years, my palms too hairy to hide/”

Nothing too complicated, and there are tons of pauses, but he KILLS it. It’s almost as if he’s not paying attention. These days, he tries to impress us with just how many syllables he can pack into each line, and it’s exerting, even for him. We can tell, too. On other songs, for sure, but especially on Asshole, he’s using elaborate rhyme schemes, but he’s no longer slaughtering shit effortlessly. 

It Would Be Better If You Gave Me Nothing At All

13. Parking Lot (Skit) – Em has a great history with skits. His Public Service Announcements were great. His Steve Berman skit on the original MMLP is an all-time classic, and will still occasionally cause me to burst out laughing even after the 395th listen. “You’re rapping about homosexuals and Vicodin!”

This skit seems to only serve two purposes. The first – intended – is to indicate that this CD is a literal continuation that “pick[s] up where the last Mathers left off” with the skit on Criminal, as he says on Bad Guy seconds before. I remain unconvinced. The other purpose appears at the end of this skit, as he kills himself. Marshall is trying to send us a message; this is not a sequel, but a revisitation. We’re on the same page in this regard. But where we differ is that it’s a good thing.

Marshall thinks he’s matured – that he’s grown up from his petulant personality and developed a more sophisticated perspective on life. That’s probably true, but it certainly hasn’t made him make better music. What I think is that Marshall killed off the Shady savant that was responsible for MMLP, his Magnus Opus. That guy doesn’t exist anymore, we both agree, but I think that’s a bad thing.

I feel like I actually got some good analysis here, but the only reason I originally wanted to even include this skit in the power rankings was to really hammer home how shitty the three songs we’ve already discussed are. They’re just so much worse than this excuse for a skit.

It’s Not Hip-Hop, It’s Pop

12. The Monster – The description of this song on Rap Genius says that this is Marshall’s fourth collaboration with Rihanna. Fantastic. Em’s flow is legit here, but that’s about the only thing I like about this one.

In The Monster, we see some familiar Eminem tropes rise to the surface. The one that jumps out is battling with the “monster” inside, personified by the deep voice synthesizing we were first introduced to on My Darling. It was glorious on that track; definitely did not need to see it here.

Really, my take here is pretty straight forward. This should not be an Eminem song, featuring Rihanna, on an Eminem album. This should be a Rihanna song, featuring Eminem, on a Rihanna album. If that’s what we were dealing with here, I’d be cool with it. It’s just that, you know, it’s not.

11. Survival – This track has actually grown on me since I wrote about it in my previous Blogcat. His flow is on point, and that “alligator pit/ I salivate at it/” is a nice little rhyme. 

And yet it’s still just so damn poppy. And optimistically resilient. Vintage Slim Shady sits “in padded rooms/ doin’ shrooms.” It’s not simply that he’s insane; it’s that he’s trying to get even crazier. Now instead of masochism, we get the challenge to “picture me quittin’/ Now draw a circle around it and put a line through it/” 

Quite a difference.

Put Your Money on Shady, Fuck That Other Weak Shit

10. Bad Guy – This sequel to the original MMLP’s Stan was one of two that were insanely tough to rank, but in a polar opposite way as our next one. Spoiler Alert! – I just didn’t really feel strongly above Love Game in either direction. With this one, there are parts that are great, and parts that I’m really not a fan of.

The beat here is great. Exactly the sort of dark, brooding shit I’m craving. Despite my stance on Em teaming up with female vocalists, I like this one. Some of the flow at the onset of the third and fourth verses is highly respectable.

Furthermore, I love the self-deprecating call-backs to lines from the first MMLP, like:

“I’m the bad guy/
who makes fun of people that die/
And hey, here’s a sequel to my Mathers LP, just to try to get people to buy/”

That shit’s great, but there’s just so much stuff that detracts from the good work he does here. Matthew Mitchell? Seriously? That’s damn convenient that they have the same initials, considering nowhere in Stan is there a reference to his last name. Convenient and insanely cheesy, too.

Also, what does it say about the present that its best part is a reference to the past?

Stan is Eminem’s most famous and widely respected song, and the reason that’s the case is that it was universally relatable for every music fan. Of course, we don’t all cut our wrists, hog-tie our girlfriends and suicidally drive off bridges, but who among us can’t empathize with idolizing distant musicians and using the music we love to sublimate our frustrations:

“I can relate to what you’re saying in your songs/
So when I have a shitty day, I drift away and put em on/
Cause I don’t really got shit else so that shit helps when I’m depressed/”

In Bad Guy, we have a sequel to the plot of Stan, but not to the theme. Do we all relate to having lifelong resentment toward a world-famous rap star who was at best indirectly responsible for our older brother’s suicide? I think not.

9. Love Game – This song had me nervous for a second. Eminem goes first, and then Kendrick comes on, and is much better. I thought this was our first Jay-Z-on-Renegade-esque “Eminem murdered you on your own shit” moment for Eminem, in the other direction. Then I heard Em on his third verse. Don’t know why I was ever concerned. 

This was my other toughest song to rank. On the one hand, there are crazy rhymes, crazy flows, one of the album’s best hooks, and some solid changing-the-pace production (e.g. “Busta Busta”). Also some great Marshall-style humor – the girl slurping in the first verse – as well as this ranking’s first effective Shady sighting (“Bury this stink ho in it, then pay to have the street re-paved”).

Despite all that, I never get a strong urge to bob my head or rap along to this song. I don’t foresee me skipping over this one (especially since I’m not exactly in a hurry to move on to Headlights), but I also just don’t envision me going out of my way to put it on.

I have a suspicion that Love Game is actually better than its ranking here, and it’s just my subjective preference that’s placing it this low; however, despite some bonus points for the Weebay/Wire reference, I can’t put it any higher.

8. Berzerk – This one’s also grown on me. Maybe it’s the contrast between the “wait, this song’s still on?” of Asshole, but he just comes on so ferociously. The flow is on fire. And until the last line of the first verse – “Been public enemy since you thought PE was gym, bitch/” – it’s about as good as we can expect from Shady on a pop song.

But honestly, how are the first verse and the beginning of the third on the same song as the second verse and the chorus? One moment, we’ve got Shady talking about waking up with the ugly Kardashian (the “Lamar/ oh sorry yo/ we done both set the bar low/” being absolutely hysterical), and the next we’ve got him engaging in generic rap about how his fly attire attracts a bunch of hot chicks. At this point in his career, he can’t help but relapse, I guess.

Also, I still stand by my statement I wrote in my previous Blogcat: the hook sounds like it was stolen from a Miley Cyrus song.

Mind With No Sense In It, Fried Schizophrenic

These next two songs strike me as polar opposites.

7. So Far – Eminem sings on this hook. He sings elsewhere on the track too. The mood is upbeat. The beat is basically a country song. It sounds like something taken from a Kid Rock or Uncle Kracker song. And yet, even though all those things sound so terrible, they all are so damn good.

Plus, his flow is freaking smooth. It sounds like he’s having fun, finally, instead of grinding out taxing lyrical labyrinths.

And yet the content that he covers is just so middle-aged. We again revisit the theme of him struggling to deal with public life (see: The Way I Am, and many songs since). Also, he touches heavily on his lack of technological savvy. I read one review of MMLP2 which mentioned how there are some lines on this album that probably make the Mathers children, Hailey and Alaina, roll their eyes in embarrassment of their Dad’s dorky behavior. This entire song makes me think of that.

6. Evil Twin – This song should be better. On the surface, it’s got everything I’m looking for. Attempts to let Slim Shady out of the cage. Dark beat. Rap-battle-ish punch lines. Lashing out at pop culture.

I’m also real high on the super-creepy sample of, Welcome back to the land of the living, my friend. You have slept for quite some time.” Not sure what it’s from, but it’s dope. If anybody knows, please let me know, or leave it in the comments section.

It almost sounds, though, like Em doesn’t know how to flow on it. The entire delivery is stilted. Moreover, none of the punch-lines really force you to rewind in that jaw-dropping, “Ah, wait, no way, you’re kidding/ He didn’t just say what I think he did, did he/” way. I’ve listened to it several times, now, and I can’t really remember one epic moment.

So Far was horrible planning, but immaculate execution. Evil Twin is surely the opposite.

Smoked Out ’til I Started Bustin’ Freestyles

5. So Much Better – This song just makes me happy for Marshall. I can just imagine how much of a good time they had in the recording studio during his third verse, or with the “L-L-L-Lesbiannnn” line. I think with this one, it’s pretty clear that he really wasn’t over-thinking it; he just let it come naturally. And he reckons back to one of my favorite gags, “I’m just playin, bitch, you know I love you.

Also, it had to be pointed out to me, but go listen to Criminal, a classic track off the first MMLP. This beat, though not quite as good, is basically a reworking of that one. Pretty cool.

Yes, this is not the first time, even in this list, that Em is talking directly to the “rap game” as a spurned lover, a la 25 to Life. But that aside, this song is just so fun. I already wish I knew all its words, especially those for the third verse, purely because it would just be enjoyable to spit fire alongside it.

When you have me picturing driving around my hometown neighborhood with the windows down, and already wanting to turn up the volume when this song comes on, you know it’s definitely going to be in this album’s top 5.

4. Rhyme or Reason – The first verse on this is so absurdly sick. “My mother reproduced like a komodo dragon/” is a fucking amazing line. He makes it rhyme, but it wouldn’t even need to. It’s that good of a metaphor.

Only Slim would rap like Yoda. It’s a tiny bit cheesy, but it’s a cool enough concept that it more than makes up for it.

What stands out to me about these latest two is that they sound like he just showed up in the studio and went at it. So many of the songs we’ve already covered sound like he came in with some dense verse that he’d spent hours toiling over. I obviously don’t know what his process was for any of these, and I imagine it doesn’t differ too much among songs, regardless of what the process is, but these two come across like he completely winged them. And by taking what the defense gives him, as it were, he becomes so much more scathing.

And the Dark Shall Emerge From the Fiery Depths of Hell

3. Legacy – Forget Bad Guy – this bad boy is Stan’s real sequel. Polina, who belts out the song’s vocals, does a pretty damn good Dido impression. And the whole thing basically serves as gospel for kids being bullied, just like Marshall was, back as a “corny lookin white boy, scrawny and always ornery”. The whole thing is tragic, and beautiful.

I just adore the way he opens his verses, showing us the gaping wounds of every kid who’s ever felt like an outcast:

“I used to be the type of kid that, would alway think the sky is falling/
Why am I so differently wired? Am I a martian?/”

With Legacy, we’ve finally arrived at a song that you couldn’t pick out of a lineup from Slim Shady LP or Marshall Mathers LP. Ahhh. It’s good to be back.

That goes for everything other than the chorus itself, and the third verse, which both serve as examples of the greater tone shift in Em’s work. In these sections, he’s conquered those bullies. That’s not where he was when Criminal ended. Slim Shady is not a victor.

I originally had this song listed as this album’s top song, but it just couldn’t maintain. It’s a great track, but it just can’t quite hang with the heavyweights we got coming up.

2. Rap God – I’ll spare a lengthy review here, as I’ve already provided one in my previous post. Yet this song is, again, so fucking good. The third verse was what caught my attention the first time through, but now the first one is blowing my mind, from the first words up until the end of the “break a motherfucking table” line.

I’d like to call attention to one other sweet line, just for shits and giggles:

“”I don’t know how to make songs like that/
I don’t know what words to use”/
Let me know when it occurs to you/
While I’m ripping any one of these verses, that versus you/
It’s curtains, I’m inadvertently hurtin’ you/
How many verses I gotta murder to prove/
That if you were half as nice, your songs, you could sacrifice virgins too/”

Man, if only the first 10 songs we covered were up to that caliber.

I’m going to guess Rap God will be the track most people will point to as the paragon of this album, and I don’t blame them, but I do have to knock it for one thing: Sing-along-ability (yes, I’m making that up).

Sure, it’s impressive what he’s done on this song from a complexity standpoint, but he’s laid down patterns to which I’ll never be able to rap along. Rhyming alongside a song is something that is often a really good time, and he’s rendered that virtually impossible by spitting his lyrics so fucking fast. Considering I can barely comprehend much of the third verse, not to mention keeping up with its flow, I’ve got to dock some points.

Opened a Hole, and My Whole Brain Fell Out of My Skull

1. Brainless – This Blogcat has taken awhile to write, so by the time I got down to writing about Brainless I got to second guessing myself on its at-the-time ranking. I’d originally put it at number 3, but I hadn’t listened to it in awhile, and was skeptical that it should be listed even that high. After all, the beat isn’t as immediately catchy as something like Rhyme or Reason. Maybe it should drop out of the top 5, perhaps. Then I listened to it again. Holy, holy, holy shit. Now it’s our undisputed champion.

At least, I think. Fuck. Let’s move on before I go back and listen to Rap God again.

How do you come across defeated and victorious in the same song? How can you be “full of venom and rage” while being completely casual? Honest and mocking? Serious and sarcastic? Oh wait, it’s Slim Shady! Never mind! It’s been awhile, dude, how have you been?

I mean, honestly, this song is just insane. Look at his description of what’s in Slim Shady’s head:

“Still in my skull is a vacant, empty void/
been using it more as a bin for storage/
Take some inventory, in this gorge there’s a Ford engine, door hinge/
Syringe, an orange, an extension cord, and a Ninja sword/
Not to mention four lynch pins and a stringent stored/
Ironing board, a bench, a wrench or winch, and an attention whore/”

Shady, how I missed you so!

I’ve now spilt thousands of words across three different essays on how Eminem’s majesty relies on combining ruthless, twisted violence with mundanity and honesty, and shit that barely makes sense. What a perfect example of all that in one rhyming pattern! Honesty, about being an attention whore. Normality, like ironing boards and door hinges. And, of course, perverse aggression, with swords and syringes.

I could go on, for sure, but we’re already at like 4,000 words. Besides, there’s more to come – not only in general, but also from this song, including our “Best Line” winner!

You could certainly talk me into Rap God being the best song on the LP. It’s an insanely impressive musical thrill-ride. But for years, I’ve been preaching that there’s a certain recipe that makes Eminem the greatest rapper of all time, and Brainless comes closer to that than any song in a good while, not to mention on this album.

I’m sticking to my guns. Brainless is the best that The Marshall Mathers LP 2 has to offer.

Monger of Hate, Satanist, Scatter-Brained Atheist

I hope you enjoyed my power rankings. If you’re still here, thanks for lasting this long. I’ll try and wrap up quickly here with some scattered thoughts I have on the album, in no particular order, and then finish with a few awards.

– Em had a lot of corny lines on this thing (e.g. “that compliment’s like backhanding a donkey/ Good way to get your ass socked in the mouth/”).

– The hook on Brainless sort of reminds me of the hook on My Mom from Relapse. Both are some of Eminem’s post-The Eminem Show best.

– Speaking of hooks, I’d like to provide a breakdown. Eminem sings on the hooks of Rhyme or Reason, So Much Better, Berzerk, Brainless, Stronger Than I Was, So Far, and Evil Twin; that’s a total of 7 times. He has female vocalists on the hooks of Bad Guy, Survival, Legacy, Asshole, and The Monster; that’s a total of 5 times. Kendrick and Nate Reuss are featured on the hooks of Love Game and Headlights respectively.

Rap God is the only hook constituted by Eminem rapping. That actually exaggerates how bad the hooks were on this album, but this is unfortunately the world we’re living in today.

– Learning about bridges (the musical kind) might have been the worst thing to happen to Eminem. They convinced him he’s a craftsman of a musician. Not sure that he is. Em: please just stick to spitting hot fire.

Yeezus was a better album, right?

– Those of you who are on top of your shit will notice I did not cover the five “bonus tracks” related to this album. I didn’t really have time to do so, but either way, this recent trend of having “bonus tracks” in the first place sort aggravates me. Either put them on the album officially, or don’t include them at all. It makes evaluating things more difficult; for example, Relapse got a whole lot better with My Darling and Careful What You Wish For, but what does that mean? Oh well. Go check out the bonus tracks anyway.

– We see Slim, Marshall, and Eminem perfectly intertwine on rare occasions, but we also see a ton of garbage on this album. I’m basically exhausted from bitching about it, but I think Em, at the start of Rap God‘s second verse, states it best why his peak days are basically gone for good:

“Well, to be truthful the blueprint’s/
simply rage and youthful exuberance/”

Considering Marshall Mathers is now 41 years old, and he’s a millionaire whose much more at peace with his family and the media than he used to be, he’s lost all those crucial ingredients. Good for Marshall, bad for us listeners.

– Em claims on Evil Twin that “sometimes I listen and revisit them old albums often as I can/” Not sure what he’s listening for, but I wish he would fine tune some things.

– Eminem’s career reminds me a lot of Larry Bird (here’s where it gets reaaaaal Bill Simmons-y). First, and most obviously, they’re both white in an industry traditionally dominated by black males. They’re both widely thought of as being in the top 5 or 10 to have ever done it. They’re both legendary trash-talkers (Bird actually has an entire section on his Wikipedia page titled “Trash-talking“); while Shady gives Mariah Carey a “Warning,” Bird tells Chuck Person “Merry Fucking Christmas.” Larry won three MVPs, and three NBA titles; Marshall put out three Hall of Fame albums. Bird was the best player on arguably the best NBA team of all time (the ’86-’87 Boston Celtics), which at the time broke the record for single-season wins; Marshall put out arguably the best rap album of all time (MMLP), which also was the fastest selling album of all time. Both had health problems (Bird’s back, Em’s drug use and recovery) that caused their abilities to fade and them to turn into shells of their former selves, reduced to only the occasional flash of back-in-the-day brilliance. Bird (along with Magic Johnson) defined his game for a decade; Marshall did the same.

Both are Legends.

But Slim, What If You Win? Wouldn’t It Be Weird?

Now, some awards:

Worst Verse: Umm, the first verse on Stronger Than I Was? I guess? I was about to point out that, since it’s barely a verse (in traditional rap terms), it might get disqualified. Then I realized that it totally qualifies, and the utter truth I just mentioned in the previous sentence makes this verse a lock for winning this award.

Best Verse: I think the third verse on Rap God would win this, if (a) you could rap along with the supersonic speed and (b) the beginning and end of it were of a higher caliber. Since that’s not the case, this just has to go to the third verse on Brainless. The flow keeps you off balance in an ideal way, and he’s so insanely sick wit it. It makes me giddy thinking about it. Truthfully, it makes me feel cocky listening to him rap it. That’s pretty incredible.

Worst Hook: Again, Stronger Than I Was is what I immediately go to. God damn, that song is so terrible it’s making this award thing boring, but Em is so horribly whiny as he holds that “Was” at the end. Let’s move in a different direction, though, and give this trophy to Asshole. That hook is equally obnoxious. Sorry, Skylar Grey. Better luck next time.

Best Hook: Let’s hand this one to Evil Twin. It only appears once. Eminem sings, but in the same way that he does on I’m Back. Also, I appreciate the sampling of Royce da 59’s line from Bad Meets Evil. Solid all around.

Worst Beat: This one’s gotta go to Headlights. I think the promise of the first few electronic and eerie seconds make what comes after even more depressing. This song sounds like something you would slow-dance to in 6th grade. Where’s Remember Me? when you need it? Marshall, to the left, seems to wonder the same thing.

Best Beat: Rap God is definitely up there, but the song as a whole has gotten so much love from me already. Let’s go with So Far for this one. It’s different than Slim’s usual style, I’ll admit, but it’s still really cool.

Worst Line: There were a couple candidates from Bad Guy, but this one stands out, largely because “nitwit” just fits so horribly, and is clearly only there to force a stilted rhyme:

“Not this time, you better go and get sewing kit, bitch/
Finish this stitch so you can reap what you sow, nitwit/”

Come on, Slim, you’re better than that!

Best Line: I’ve already mentioned some nominees. The sections I quoted from Rap God and Brainless. The opening lines of Rhyme or Reason (even though I’m not going to be convinced that “canvas” rhymes there). One I didn’t mention was from So Much Better, for pure Shady mocking:

“I got 99 problems and a bitch ain’t one/
She’s all 99 of ’em I need a machine gun/”

However, this award simply HAS to go to a different portion of Brainless. It’s really more of a rhyme scheme than one line, but that’s basically how it works. “So be it”:

“And those kids just about, belted out/
Whatever spout that it fell out of my smart aleck mouth, it was so weird/
Inappropriate, so be it, I don’t see it/
Maybe one day when the smoke clears, it won’t be as/
Mothafuckin’ difficult, ch-yeah, til then/
Hopefully you lil’ homos get over your fears and phobias/
It’s okay to be scared straight, they said I provoke queers/
’til emotions evoke tears, my whole career’s a stroke/
Of sheer genius, smoke and mirrors, tactical, practical jokes/
Yeah, you mothafuckin’ (insert insult here)/”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why he’s the master.


3 responses to “Smoke and Mirrors

  1. Whoever wrote this, doesn’t know anything about rap music.

  2. Actually, more to the point. Whoever wrote this has no idea what this album is about. No clue.

  3. Yo I don’t know what this guys thinking…I was about to go crazy till he said at the end that shady is the master or whatever.

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