Eminem is one of my favorite artists of all-time and has released enough good music in my humble opinion to call him a G.O.A.T. in hip-hop.
Eminem Has a Great Discography
His first three albums are all arguably classic, and Relapse and Recovery are probably just one notch under those in terms of quality. Encore gets a bad wrap due to a few nonsensical songs like “Big Weenie” and “Puke,” but includes some real gems like “Yellow Brick Road” and the seemingly pro-gun “We As Americans.”
The 8 Mile Soundtrack is also classic along with the label promo project Re-Up Mixtape compilation that included some great collaborations with 50 Cent, and the dark and brooding “No Apologies.”
The New Album
With all of this great music in his catalogue, Eminem seems to have either switched up his production and writing team too much (he ditched the Bass Brothers in 2009 and they co-wrote a lot of his hits including “Lose Yourself”), or just plain fell-off in the art of song writing. His latest effort, Music to Be Murdered By, excited me at first, but upon listening to it around three times, I feel like he can’t craft a hook or pick a beat to save his life.
There’s some cool collaborations on the project like “Yah Yah” with Black Thought, and “You Gon Learn” with Royce da 5’9, but overall he is still missing the magic that once carried his music to the top of the charts and into the car stereos and headphones of anyone trying to be up on what’s hot. I need to give this latest album more time, but that doesn’t exclude his previous three efforts which have all been duds.
His Decline IMO
I feel like Em’s decline started on MMLP2 which was a horribly sequenced follow-up to his 2000 magnum opus. This is when he started using those “insert rapper here” label crafted songs and just got plain lazy when it came to the content. He tried too hard to revisit his zany shock value style from his first two albums and was only able to succeed on a few tracks like “Evil Twin” and “Bad Guy.”
The middle of this project sounded like a collection of throwaway songs, and if not for the deluxe edition, this album really would have died out quick in my rotation.
Then came Revival in 2017. Eminem decided to double up on the insert rapper here type tracks with features from a plethora of pop artists including Pink, Kehlani, Ed Sheeran and more. The tracklist was trashed instantly on the blogs and the album was just as bad as most had anticipated.
Eminem tried to tackle some relevant topics like police brutality in tracks like “Untouchable,” and the 2016 presidential elections in “Nowhere Fast.” But his conscious angle wasn’t received well by anyone, and the themes did not remain constant throughout the rest of the project which featured songs where he rapped about rapping and covered tired relationship tropes.
The only songs worth listening to on Revival are “Castle” and “Arose” which harkened back to classic Eminem taking his personal life and making it relevant to his audience.
The album received so much backlash that Eminem rushed to follow it up with the bitter, battle ready Kamikaze which was received more positively. However, the project did not age well since a majority of its lyrics focus on dated battles with rappers like MGK and Lord Jamar. He also was able to hide some cheesy choruses (“Greatest in the World”) and horrible beat selections (“Kamikaze”) by filling them with controversial rhymes that got people talking.
Again, the old Eminem popped out briefly on tracks like “Fall” and “Stepping Stone” where the song quality actually matched that of the lyrics, but this is a rare feat for Eminem these days. I know a lot of people love this project, but I’m betting that they are newer fans of Eminem who aren’t as familiar with his early catalogue.
Then we arrive at his latest project MTBMB and we finally get an Eminem and Alchemist track with “Stepdad.” This song has one of the strangest Alchemist beats I’ve ever heard and I’m sure this wasn’t the kind of song fans had in mind when they were begging Eminem to release a song with his own DJ.
We also get more relationship woes from a man in his 40s who still deals with women like he did in his 20s in songs like “Farewell,”(maybe it’s about hip-hop or drugs need to listen more) and yet another feature from Skylar Grey on “Leaving Heaven”. I’m not sure if there’s one song I like from those two together.
The Old Eminem is Gone and That’s OK
After listening to the new project a few times, I started telling myself to forget the old Eminem and just accept this for what it is. And surprisingly, I started enjoying it more. He still camouflages a lack of content and terrible beats with fast rapping, and sings these on-the-nose choruses like in “Stepdad” that a 4-year-old could have written, but I’ve learned to accept it.
I then took to Reddit to see what everyone thought about the project and I received an overwhelmingly negative response. You’ll always have your group of Eminem stans who praise everything he puts out, but the drop in quality seems to have turned the general public against him.
These Bloggers Feed Into His Shock Value
Not to mention the very overly sensitive blogs that like to take his shock value lyrics and try to shame him every chance they get. Remember, Eminem is a guy that rapped about shooting all the kids from Columbine right after Columbine happened. He doesn’t care about your sensationalized headlines about bars that are meant to do exactly that. Create controversy.
Anyhow, a guy who probably releases music for fun at this point just can’t seem to catch a break with the media or fans.
Ruining His Legacy?
If Eminem farts on an entire double-disc length LP and releases it, (he did fart a lot on Encore), he is still a legend. But he is probably hindering future fans from going back to the classic material by releasing sub-par music that gets way too over analyzed in the public eye.
If he wasn’t Eminem, no one would care if he put out a few duds. But he’s known for classic songs and albums, and hasn’t dropped one of those in over 10 years.
His superstar status magnifies his blunders and could possibly jeopardize his G.O.A.T. title with future audiences.
Do you think it’s time for Eminem to take a cue from Joe Budden and hang it up? Or should he keep taking this public beating every time he decides to drop? He undoubtably still makes a hell of a lot of money for his label so it’s in their interest for him to keep releasing music.
But is he damaging his legacy and ruining the perception of his music in the public eye?