by Ore Fakorede
Eminem first collaborated with fellow Detroit emcee Royce Da 5’9” on ‘Bad Meets Evil’, a single off the thirteen-time Grammy-winner’s 1999 major-label debut, ‘The Slim Shady LP’. In the aftermath of that early partnership, the two artistes joined forces as hip-hop duo Bad Meets Evil and recorded a number of singles including ’Renegade’ (which wound up on Jay-Z’s ‘The Blueprint’ album sans Royce’s verse).
Bad Meets Evil split shortly after its formation due to a lengthy dispute between Royce Da 5’9” and D12, Eminem’s rap crew. This disagreement wasn’t resolved till 2008. Eleven years after its first studio recording, the partnership finally yields its first real fruit in ‘Hell: The Sequel’, an 11-track EP laced liberally with dextrous wordplay laid over top-notch instrumentals.
Leaping off the massive success of 2010’s ‘Recovery’, Eminem defies gravity on ‘Hell’ as he soars through track after track like an aerodynamic creature made of subliminal rhymes and expletives. Although Royce Da 5’ 9” has far less to boast of (his last album was stranded at the bottom half of the Billboard 200), the Slaughterhouse member does well to hold his own in the elite company of an unparalleled rap genius. From the cinematic intro track ‘Welcome To Hell’ on which Em trades staccato verses with the lesser-known but infinitely-gifted Royce for three intense minutes, it is perfectly clear that both rappers are well-balanced at the acme of their lyrical game.
Considering the volume of explicit material on this album, Eminem was dead-on when he rhymed on the opener, “Better beware, (there’s too much at stake)/And to find someone this raw on a beat is rare”. But the thick patches of rawness can almost be overlooked as the sheer brilliance of the duo’s near-perfect rapid-fire exchanges offers more than just a mere consolation.
In the half-hour it takes to cycle through its playlist, ‘Hell: The Sequel’ manages to make a good impression. The album’s standout tracks include its lead single ‘Fastlane’, ‘Living Proof’, ‘Above The Law’ and rap arena showpiece ‘Take Me’. On the Bangladesh-produced ‘A Kiss’, Mr. Mathers shows an ominous flash of his decadent Slim Shady alter ego as he reverts to that all too familiar habit of crude misogyny and celebrity bashing: “…tell Lady Gaga she can quit her job at the post office, she’s still a male lady”. That line is pretty accurate, if you ask me.
In contrast to the eponymously cacophonic single, ‘Loud Noises‘ which is crammed with verses from Royce‘s Slaughterhouse co-rappers Crooked I, Joe Budden and Joell Ortiz, the other super-collaboration on ‘Hell: The Sequel’ is emotive and laidback. ‘Lighters’, a piano-infused pop/rap ballad, features critically-acclaimed crooner Bruno Mars who punctuates the rhyme spells with his trademark vocals. Although the inclusion of that pleasant song is worth nearly half of the eleven-year wait for this cultured album, one can only hope that the next Bad Meets Evil record isn’t delayed for another decade.
‘Hell: The Sequel’ will be available for purchase in stores and on iTunes from June 14.
Watch Bad Meets Evil’s ‘Hell: The Sequel Trailer” Here
Watch The Brand New Music Video Of ‘Fastlane’ Here