Eminem's long and storied career could benefit from a few fresh faces.
As the year comes to a close, it becomes increasingly unclear whether or not Eminem will bless us with his new album. Despite the fact that producer Mr. Porter may or may not have confirmed that was Em’s latest project was indeed complete, there is still no word on any potential release date, which means we’re probably looking at an early 2018 drop. However, Eminem has never exactly embraced the new generation’s mentality of dropping loosies out of the blue, and likely never will. In fact, the prolific rapper seems content to operate within the confines of his comfort zone, a habit that also extends to his choice of collaborators.
We do know that Em has been in the lab with Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin, but that’s hardly new territory for Slim Shady. He’s been making music with Dre for well over a decade, and Rubin’s fingerprints were all over Em’s Marshall Mathers LP II album. When Em famously enlisted the services of Just Blaze for 2010’s Recovery, it was a breath of fresh air for many, and Blaze’s contributions to the album were among Recovery’s dopest joints. However, for better or worse, it looks like Em will be working with the producers who know him best. That means Dre, Rubin, and even the rumored Alex Da Kid are likely to contribute the bulk of production.
Still, Em has occasionally worked with different producers, including FrancisGotHeat & Wondagurl on Big Sean’s “No Favors,” Streetrunners, S1, & M-Phases on “Bad Guy,” and Sid Roams on “Evil Twin.” In fact, many current producers have adopted an eerie, ominous sound that seems like a perfect fit for Eminem’s music. Let’s be honest here - an artist of Eminem’s caliber can essentially work with anybody in the game, so it comes down to the simple act of making a choice.
So, let’s break it down. Of all the new wave producers in the game, which ones would be a good fit for Eminem? Here are five of our selections, and feel free to sound off in the comment section below.
It might be easy to see the name Metro Boomin, and draw the conclusion that his rising status as one of the game’s biggest names makes him an obvious choice. However, Metro would actually be an excellent fit for Em, based strictly on a musical criteria. As evidenced by his work with Dr. Dre and Dawaun Parker on Relapse, or even some of his earlier ventures with Dre on tracks like “Forgot About Dre,” Em tends to favor chord progressions with haunting, minor-key qualities.
Luckily, those types of bangers are Metro’s speciality. Check out the production on Gucci Mane’s Droptopwop, or any of his collaborations with Future. In fact, the instrumental for Gucci Mane’s “Both Eyes Closed” sounds like it would have been right at home on Relapse.
Mike WiLL Made-It
Like Metro, Mike WiLL is capable of crafting a dark banger, like his contribution to ScHoolboy Q & 2 Chainz’ Oxymoron highlight “What They Want.” But what makes this fantasy-collaboration even more enticing is Mike WiLL’s open admiration of Eminem’s cinematic ambition. In an interview with Shade 45, Mike spoke about hearing Stan for the first time: “he showed me you can make a movie on a track...I wish I had me a ni**a like Em right quick, to make that “Forgot About Dre” type shit...it’s crazy man...like, his flow pattern, everything about him man...Shout out to Eminem.”
It sounds like Mike WiLL and Eminem would definitely connect on a creative tip, and it stands to reason that if they were to collide, the end result would be at once boundary-pushing and grandiose in scope.
A lesser known addition to the list, Ottawa’s Night Lovell’s music can best be described as a hip-hop take on the Drive soundtrack vibes. With soundscapes evocative of neon-lit, fog-shrouded back alleys, Lovell has been emerging as an independent force. Like the two aforementioned producers, Lovell’s percussion is generally trap-inspired, but his unique sonic aesthetic does help him stand out from the Soundcloud generation. In some ways, he’s cut from a similar cloth as RonnyJ, only rather than distorting his tracks, Lovell’s biggest strength is his subtlety.
Check out this track he produced for Chris Travis, called Oh No. In it, Lovell employs masterful use of a horror-film style glockenspiel, juxtaposing it with hard-hitting, Southern-style 808s. Landing a track with Eminem would be a hell of a milestone for the young producer, but in the end, it might very well prove mutually beneficial.
Perhaps most recently known for his work on the gothic, dreamlike “XO Tour Life,” TM88 has low key been contributing to some of the game’s biggest artists. While the Atlanta producer would be a bit of a stylistic deviation for Em, it would be cool to see Eminem fully embrace the current production wave and unleash that unparallelled flow last seen on “Rap God.” In fact, on “Rap God” and Big Sean’s “I Decided,” Em seemed to flirt with a more trap-inspired musical direction, so it wouldn’t be as vast a departure as one might think. At the end of the day, Atlanta is basically running the production game right now, so it would be cool to see one of the city’s most reliable names provide input to a Slim Shady joint.
Plus, TM88’s work on “XO Tour Life” or the Young Thug joint “Future Swag” would be an interesting starting point for Em, who would no doubt bring excellent melodies to the former and relentless, Rap God-esque flows to the lattter.
While J. Cole has immortalized himself as one of the generation’s most talented lyricists out, he’s also a beast behind the boards. Cole has handled the bulk of his own album production, which in itself is an impressive feat - one that Em has also accomplished, back on The Eminem Show. Yet Em’s production tends to operate under a distinct musical style, Cole’s production is a little more versatile. He can craft bangers as effectively as he can craft a more introspective jam, and imagining him and Em spending some time in the studio is certainly an exciting thought.
Em fans know that the rapper is at his best when he’s at his most raw, honest, and vulnerable. As a rapper who has also delivered music of that nature, J. Cole would be the perfect candiate for the ultimate meeting of the minds. And who knows, perhaps Cole would even contribute a verse to the cause.