While most of the world was sleeping, Eminem dropped a bombshell. At midnight, Marshall Mathers III dropped his 11th studio album: Music to Be Murdered By. The follow up to 2018’s Kamikaze does not disappoint. While Nick Cannon is race-baiting and playing games, Eminem is dropping knowledge and speaking on things that matter. We’ll get into that, but let’s look at this tracklist:
Unaccommodating (featuring Young M.A)
You Gon’ Learn (featuring Royce da 5’9” and White Gold)
Those Kinda Nights (featuring Ed Sheeran)
In Too Deep
Godzilla (Juice WRLD)
Leaving Heaven (featuring Skylar Grey)
Yah Yah (featuring Royce da 5’9”, Black Thought Q-Tip and Denaun)
Never Love Again
Lock It Up (featuring Anderson Paak)
No Regrets (featuring Don Toliver)
I Will (featuring Kxng Crooked, Royce da 5’9” and Joell Ortiz)
Many have wanted “Slim” back, but I can’t say that I’ve been in that lane. I’ve enjoyed Eminem’s progression in albums like Recovery, MMLP2, and Revival. In Music to Be Murdered by, Marshall perfectly blends the old Slim Shady people have been wanting and shows growth at the same time. It all starts with the album cover. The album cover sets it all off.
Firstly, the album cover (and album title) pay direct tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s Music to Be Murdered By. Hitchcock released his album in 1958. Sixty-two years later, I think Alfred would be proud of the tribute Mathers presents. Premonition, much like the Ringer did on Kamikaze, perfectly sets the tone. In Premonition, Eminem starts it by saying, “Yeah/So I guess this is what it is, huh?/Think it’s obvious/We ain’t never going to see eye to eye/It’s funny/As much as I hate you/I need you.”
Consequently, Eminem is taking direct aim at his critics with that reference. Revival got bad reviews because it wasn’t Slim Shady enough. Then, critics pan Kamikaze because it was too Slim Shady. So, now Eminem releases he will never please anyone. He’s just doing him and does not care what others think anymore. It’s a carefree level of Eminem we have not seen in some time. Still, he is aware that he needs the fuel that the hate of his work provides. It works!
Certainly, all hip-hop heads should know that Marshall does not care for a vast majority of new rappers. On this album, though, Eminem features artists he respects. Young M.A on Unaccommodating does her thing. Don Toliver is an excellent compliment on No Regrets and Anderson .Paak does well on Lock It Up. The standout, though, is Juice WRLD on the hook of Godzilla, which is one of the best tracks on the album. Rest in Peace, Juice. Mathers, however, still finds time to pay homage to his era of hip-hop.
Eminem features Royce da 5’9″ on three songs. Kxng Crooked and Joell Ortiz join Royce on one of those features, which makes it Slaughterhouse minus one. We’re looking at you, Joe Budden. Yah Yah features Royce da 5’9”, Q-Tip, Black Thought and Denaun (Mr. Porter aka Kon Artis) and has a 90’s hip-hop vibe. Still, even on the tracks with old school artists, Eminem brings the new school into his work.
The beats are how Eminem blends the old school and the new school. In a song you might expect to hear Fetty Wap or Lil Yachty hop in, Eminem cuts through with his unquestioned lyricism and unmatched flow. Still, the best part of Music to Be Murdered By is how Marshall finds his voice and perfectly blends the style he aims for on Revival with the attitude that critics praise on Kamikaze.
In Leaving Heaven, Slim addresses his childhood of getting beat up and how he gets his revenge. Also, he speaks about his father in-depth for this first time his death. Stepdad addresses Mathers’ hate for his stepfather. Subsequently, it’s the first time he addresses his stepdad in such detail. The track is profound and illuminating. The coup de grace of Music to Be Murdered By, though, is Darkness.
In a song that leaves you with feelings similar to Stan and Cleaning Out My Closet, Darkness speaks on Eminem’s struggles with anxiety, depression, and drug use. What perfects the song, though, is that Eminem raps from the perspective of the Las Vegas shooter. While he explains what is likely going through the head of the shooter, you feel that he is speaking about himself. In the music video, it ends with the words, “When will it end? When enough people care.” This is a direct reference to gun violence in America, which Marshall has been a vocal critic about.
In conclusion, Music to Be Murdered By is a masterpiece. If you think that the album is trash, you need to quit listening to rap. It is an absolute masterpiece. With a tone of Eminem trying to his place in the rap game, he kills the game again. It’s perfection. The beats on the album are top-notch. The lyricism is on a level only Eminem can reach. The flow is out of this world. Slim Shady was back on Kamikaze. Music to Be Murdered By completes the evolution of Eminem in a Rap God. I’m giving the album 5 out of 5 stars. It’s well worth the listen.
Be sure to check out our other review with Side Spin at Turn It Up!