Eminem – “Music to Be Murdered By” Album Review

Story posted January 22, 2020 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Jim Krueger

Eminem released his most recent album “Music To Be Murdered By,” without any promotion; an album where the rap legend throws everything at the wall to see what sticks, and much of it does not.

The Detroit rapper needs no introduction to most music fans. He is by a considerable margin the best-selling rapper of all time, the only rapper to have sold over 200 million records. Critically, he is widely considered to be one of the greatest musicians of the 21st century, but that critical acclaim is mostly because of his work in the first decade of the new millennium.

More recently Marshall Mathers has been panned by fans and critics alike. 2017’s “Revival” was an absolute mess of unnatural staccato flows and painfully basic political messages. A year later, Eminem released “Kamikaze,” an album which served almost completely as a platform to go after “Revival” critics and young rappers.

The good news is, for the most part, Eminem toned down this anger in “Music To Be Murdered By,” despite what the title may suggest. In fact, his best moments come when collaborating with the younger crop of musicians. “Godzilla,” featuring late rapper Juice WRLD, is a perfect example of this. Eminem goes back to basics with his flow, the lyrics are manic, but without being offensive, the trap style beat is energetic and the hook provided by Juice WRLD gives a good contrast.

The verse from Young M.A. at the beginning of “Unaccommodating” is one of the album’s high points. Again Eminem sounds closer to the 2001 version of himself lyrically, though some of his lines are questionable, such has his reference to the Ariana Grande concert bombing.

While there are highpoints, “Music To Be Murdered By” is still mostly one big long mess, an album confused about its style and theme. The occasional appearances from Alfred Hitchcock, alluding to the album’s title, is a creative move reminiscent of a compact concept album, but this album is anything but that.

The most intolerable track on this album is the opening track “Premonition - Intro.” It is a continuation of Eminem’s Kamikaze-esque style, complaining about people disliking his recent work. There is nothing clever or interesting about Eminem whining about a bad Rolling Stone review, and it begs the question of how can one of the most successful musicians in recent history be this offended by one or two critically panned albums? “Premonition” is reminiscent of one of Eminem’s most untalented copycat diciples, think “Mumble Rapper vs. Lyricist,” by Vin Jay.

Another ill-conceived track is the atrocious “Those Kinda Nights,” a song where Mathers sounds like a dumbed down version of his former self circa D12. The fact that he raps about not caring about sexual harassment, regardless of how tongue in cheek it might be, is troublesome. Additionally, the Ed Sheeran chorus has absolutely no place in this song. Sheeran does not usually find himself on tracks related that speak about perversion and depravity, and for good reason.

Despite these stylistic outliers, “Music To Be Murdered By,” takes a self-reflective and more serious tone with varied levels of success. The song “Darkness” speaks out against mass shootings. It’s a track that takes an unexpected turn and regardless of how overly dramatic the song might seem, Eminem’s lyrics are compelling and he does a good job holding on to a narrative above a minimalistic beat.

The song sees Eminem take the perspective of a mass shooter, a song very reminiscent of “Stan” in this sense. The song “Leaving Heaven,” is another good track. Eminem raps about his father and the lack of love he has for him, even after his death, the message is strong and Mathers makes it easier for listeners to be empathetic toward him.

Not every track is this powerful, however. “Stepdad,” tells a most likely fictional tale of a younger Eminem beating up his stepfather. The track is incredibly corny and the chorus, sung by Mathers himself, is horrendous. In fact, every time he tries singing in this album produces a cringe worthy reaction.

Most tracks in the second half of the album fly under the radar. This is something Eminem, even at his worst, does not do. This is not a terrible thing, but it does not make for an intriguing album. He can whip out an impressive flurry of fast rapping and clever rhymes, but these are often too few and too far between to garner any strong reaction.

In conclusion, Eminem has high points in “Music To Be Murdered By,” but he is unable to stick to a consistent narrative, style or sound. What this produces is an inconsistent, loosely assembled collection of songs that often miss the mark and is too long for its own good.

In the future, Eminem should stick to a simple narrative and a shorter collection of tracks for upcoming albums. By this point, he should be aware of what has worked in his career and what has not. Going back to basics in lyrical structure and flow, but embracing modern artists worked for him in tracks such as “Godzilla.” An album fully embracing this would have worked much better.

Reviewer’s Rating: 5/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Track: “Godzilla (feat. Juice WRLD)”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Track: “Those Kinda Nights,” “Premonition - Intro”

 

 

Jim Krueger is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email kruegerjim19@gmail.com.