‘Music To Be Murdered By’ is the best way to describe Eminem’s surprise album. The themes portrayed here are very controversial, but what else could you expect from the Detroit rapper? He has always been criticised by the mass media for his controversial music, and been labelled homophobic, misogynistic and insensitive to various man-made disasters. However this is what sets him apart from artists in the hip-hop industry: he is not afraid to speak his mind and rap about topics most would shy away from, afraid of the backlash they may receive.
The LP’s title is taken from that of a previous album inspired by Alfred Hitchcock (who’s featured on the album with his commentary) - conductor, arranger and composer Jeff Alexander’s 1958 record ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents Music To Be Murdered By’. At the time it was seen as one of the most obscene albums out to date, an incredibly politically incorrect album cover, title and theme. This is something Eminem’s recaptured in modern society, with social media divided on the album - some saying it’s incredible and a masterpiece, the other saying it’s disgusting, dismissing the themes as extremely insensitive and un-PC, referencing sensitive events and figures in recent history, including the mentioning of Bin Laden.
This is the second studio album Eminem’s dropped on us by surprise, the first being 2018’s ‘Kamikaze’. The Detroit rapper is considered to be one of the best in his respected field (which this writer is in complete agreement with), meaning fans and the music industry have high expectations from him, so keeping the release of an album low-key might be a way of limiting the pressures placed upon him. It’s a clever strategy and has worked twice now, as ‘Music To Be Murdered By’ hit #1 on multiple album charts as soon as it dropped.
The album features various artists from different genres of music, and uses a variety of different beats, from old-school hip-hop - with the use of heavy bass and fast flows - to slow piano-focused melodies, creating a slower and more meaningful listening experience. This creates space for an array of music fans to enjoy their genre and style of choice.
The late Juice WRLD is featured on ‘Godzilla’ - the album’s standout track - which borders on the sub-genre of emo rap, but Eminem keeps true to his roots of hip-hop. The LP also features Royce Da 5’9, Ed Sheeran, Young M.A, Don Toliver, Skylar Grey (a regular collaborator with Eminem) and Anderson .Paak. With such variety in choice of artists, the rap journey of this album feels almost like musical theatre, each song conveying a different story with such precision it’s hard not to envision a play unfolding in your imagination, telling stories of heartbreak, fame, mental health and the problems with drug abuse.
‘Darkness’ is the track on the project that shows off Eminem's immaculate lyrical ingenuity and storytelling ability. Depicting the Las Vegas massacre of late 2017, through his words he personifies the man that committed the act, personifying the shooter, and describing his motives and thoughts before he murdered innocent concert goers. Eminem even released a visual for the song, which can be found on YouTube. The track conveys how some individuals might not have full control of their actions, and sometimes don’t even have a motive, bur their mind sends them down a spiralling path from which there’s no return.
It could be argued that ‘Music To Be Murdered By’ is the album Eminem fans have been waiting for since ‘The Marshall Mathers LP2’ in 2013, one in which he truly shows how gifted he is lyrically. With this project he shows that age is just a number, defying any expectations that have been set by the rap scene.
Words: Ramy Abou-Setta
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