Bad Meets Evil consists of Eminem and his improbably monikered chum Royce da 5’9″ who got together back in 1997 and bashed out a few well-received tunes including a self-titled track on Eminem’s debut ‘The Slim Shady LP’. Unfortunately the pair parted company after Eminem’s group D12 didn’t quite see eye to eye with Royce and while Slim Shady went on to achieve world domination he was left to plough his own lonely furrow. However in 2010, and with their differences resolved, the two headed back in the studio to record the ‘Hell:The Sequel’ EP from which ‘Lighters’ is the second single.
While the name Bad Meets Evil conjures up all sorts of unpleasant connotations they probably don’t include talented hit-maker Bruno Mars, who has a voice more like an angel than a servant of Beelzebub. However it is Mars who kicks off proceedings with a typically strong vocal performance which sets the stage for the entrance of Eminem. Both of the rappers put in pretty intense performances which contrast markedly with the very radio-friendly chorus. While purists might be a little suspicious of the hook-up with Mars there’s no doubt that it’s a toothsome mix of sweet & sour that will generate a lot more interest in the new EP.
Since storming the world stage with his footwear fetish anthem, ‘Clarks‘, Vybz Kartel is rapidly asserting himself as the world’s biggest dancehall star. The only man challenging Vybz’ all conquering dominance of Jamaica’s airwaves is the recently incarcerated Buju Banton, who’s tracks have been gaining heavy rotation since the reggae singer went down for conspiracy to supply cocaine two weeks ago.
Of course, Vybz’ success has not been overnight. He’s been working tirelessly in the reggae underground for nearly two decades and has already won several of the scene’s highest accolades including a string of EME awards (the Jamaican version of the Grammys). With a work rate that would put prolific rhymers like Lil’ Wayne to shame and a set of tattoos that make even the most ghetto rappers look conservative: it’s no wonder that Vybz is quickly becoming a permanent feature in the lucrative world of US hip hop. After collaborating with the likes of Jay-Z, Rihanna, Missy Elliot, Busta Rhymes, M.I.A and Pharrell, Vybz’ latest hook up has him working with Eminem. The result is ‘White Trash Party’, a furious trade off of blows between two extremely characteristic rappers. On it Kartel demonstrates his deep patois laced rhymes and his slightly weird singing voice – which could one day see him pitched as a cooler version of Akon.
Hailing from Alabama, Southside America, Yelawolf and notorious troublemakers Slaughterhouse have successfully landed themselves with a record deal to Eminem’s label; Shady Records. Having released mixtapes dating back to 2005, the tattoo covered rapper; Yelawolf – whose bizarre collection of body ink includes a fish on his arm – has exceeded his own expectations throughout his career and managed to hook up with rappers including Big Boi, Jay Electronica and Gucci Mane.
Hip-Hop supergroup Slaughterhouse is made up of members; Royce Da 5’9″, Crooked I, Joe Budden & Joell Ortiz. All of whom have had successful careers as solo artists, but collectively combine to create critically acclaimed rap songs. Eminem and his new signees are to feature on the cover of March’s issue of XXL, an exciting time for Shady Records and fans that can look forward to albums from both acts later this year.
Eminem’s resurgence continues with his latest track ‘Syllables’, a brand new record that riles against the weak lyrics of modern hip hop. Featuring guest verses from old hands Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Dr. Dre as well as Stat Quo and Cashis – both signed to Eminem’s Shady Records – ‘Syllables’ opens with Eminem stating that “It’s not about lyrics anymore, it’s about a hot beat and a catchy hook.”
Verses from Em, Jay-Z and Dre all come across a little “it was better back in my day” – and perhaps it was – bemoaning the youth’s love of 808 claps and catchy choruses. Ironically, it’s Eminem’s own tongue in cheek 808 filled sing-along chorus is probably the thing most people will remember about the track.
It may seem a bit rich that Eminem has suddenly riled against club friendly hip hop; after all some of his biggest hits have been filled with daft choruses. But as usual Em’s sense of humour and deft wordplay help him box his way out of any corners he gets himself into.
Pre-empting another potential album from Eminem and the much awaited comeback of Dr. Dre in 2011, ‘Syllables’ is due for release in the coming weeks.
It’s a good week for Eminem. Not only did he make a triumphant return to the live stage at T in the Park but he also scores a number one in the Shazam New Release Chart USA with ‘Love The Way You Lie’.
In the past few years scoring a Lil Wayne cameo appearance on your record has been a sure fire way of scoring a huge urban hit in the States. In 2009 alone the diminutive rapper appeared on around 79 notable singles: 20 of which made the Billboard charts. True to form Lil Wayne is currently guest staring on two of the hottest rap tracks around – namely Drake’s ‘Miss Me’ and Eminem’s ‘No Love’ – not bad for a man currently incarcerated in a New York jail.
Eminem’s ‘No Love’ is probably the more surprising of the two records. Following on from the success of the pair’s last hook up, ‘Drop The World’, ‘No Love’ continues a trend of sampling shoddy ‘90’s dance by basing the entire chorus around a sample from European one-hit wonder Haddaway. This use of a frankly ridiculous dance song is especially surprising considering Eminem used one of his biggest hits (‘Without Me’) to declare “Nobody listens to Techno!” Perhaps Em should have given that a try instead of filling his iPod with cheddar infused Dutch house?
Anyway, despite the slightly annoying chorus ‘No Love’ is still a solid rap track. Eminem and Lil Wayne are two of the most accomplished rhyme-smiths of their generation and their verses do not disappoint. The highlight is probably Eminem’s line, ‘Man get these whack suckers off stage, where the f**k is KanYe when you need him?!’ A strong indication that Eminem’s still not lost his touch for ripping on his contemporaries. Although the beats may not bang as hard as they did when he was working with Dr. Dre, Eminem’s lyrical dexterity remains as potent as ever. A fact that’s proved by the huge sales his latest album is now garnering.
Even though Eminem’s last album was met with a collective “meh” from the world’s music critics, Marshall Mathers remains one of the biggest rap stars on the planet. His latest single was only released to radio stations in the US a few days ago, yet the record has already rocketed to the top of the American iTunes charts.
Stylistically ‘Not Afraid’ continues in the same vein as many of the tracks from his former album, ‘Relapse’. A plodding hip hop beat, produced by Canadian beat-smith Boi-1da, propels the record along giving Eminem space to vent a flurry of his pent-up rhymes. Themes covered in the new track include his drug addiction, his stint in rehab and his ultimate disappointment with some of his recent work.
Despite lacking some of the gritty funk that was so common in Eminem’s early work with Dr. Dre, ‘Not Afraid’ is still sure to get Slim Shady fans hot under the collar. Clever wordplay peppers the track: a feature that’s often lacking in many contemporary hip hop records but has never been found wanting in Shady raps.
‘Not Afraid is available from US iTunes now. Eminem’s forthcoming album, ‘Recovery’, hits stores June 18th – here’s hoping it lives up to just some of the massive hype already surrounding it.