With Eminem's new album set to drop this year, here's what we know and what we want.
In October 2016, Eminem dropped "Campaign Speech," seven minutes of dexterous lyricism and outlandish, obscene references. More importantly, however, was the accompanying announcement. "Don't worry," wrote Shady, in a rare Tweet, "I'm working on an album." After Slim officially dove headfirst into album mode, his loyal Stans began to speculate on what a 2017 Eminem project might sound like. His last album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, received mixed reviews, with many questioning some of the production and recycled content.
In fact, Eminem's discography since his comeback has been plagued with the same criticism. Relapse, Recovery, Bad Meets Evil, Shady XV, & MMLP2 all failed to reach the heights achieved by his earlier work, despite the occasional moment of vintage Shady brilliance. I personally have a soft spot for Relapse due to the outstanding, haunting production from Dr. Dre, Dawaun Parker, & Mark Batson and some excellent flows from Em. I've even developed an appreciation for the notorious "accent," especially when compared to some of his recent shouting delivery.
Still, any true Eminem fan knows to never underestimate Slim Shady, as there isn't a rapper in the game who has a better grasp on stringing together an insane sentence. Therefore, it's hard to not be excited about a new Eminem album, and a new Shady drop always feels like a monumental occurrence. So with rumors of a new Eminem album dropping this fall, why not delve into everything we know and want from the yet untitled project.
What We Know
He's Working With 2 Chainz
2 Chainz recently revealed that he recently linked up with Eminem for a studio session, after Denaun Porter made the introduction. What began as a broken telephone-esque bout of miscommunication eventually led to a meeting of the minds between Em and Tity Boi. Em showed 2 Chainz a track, and Chainz hilariously described some of Em's vanacular as "2-Chainzy." As Chainz explains it, he initially declined redoing the hook, as he felt that he wanted to actually "do something." Luckily for us, 2 Chainz got his wish, and came through for an entire verse. When it was finished, Eminem asked the Pretty Girls Like Trap Music rapper "how he rhymed tabernacle with Adam's apple?"
Dr. Dre, Rick Rubin, & Fred Wreck Are Allegedly Producing
While many are quick to link Eminem and Dr. Dre as one of hip-hop's dynamic duos, the good Doctor has been a little bit distant from Eminem's recent projects. While Dre was all over 2009's Relapse, he provided two beats to Recovery ("So Bad" & bonus cut "Ridaz) and none on MMLP2. However, a recent report revealed that Dre would be providing at least one instrumental to the upcoming album. However, The Defiant Ones director revealed that Dre was "producing, in the 11th hour, a track for Eminem’s latest album."
Em has also been linked to Rick Rubin, albeit tenuously. In the earlier 2 Chainz interview, he alludes to the meeting and recording session taking place at Rubin's house, so it can be inferred that the Def Jam co-founder will once again play some role in guiding the album's direction. There's no word on whether or not Rubin will serve as executive producer like he did on MMLP 2, but he will be doing something.
The third producer rumored to be associated with Em's upcoming album is Fredwreck, who previously worked as a producer for Dr. Dre's Aftermath label. Over the course of his career, Fredwreck has produced for legions of Em affiliates, including Xzibit and the late great Nate Dogg. The rumors of Fred's involvement stemmed when the producer shared this video on his Facebook page, along with the caption “The talented Jenn Em layin down vocals for another for Em.”
What We Want
As you can see, Em hasn't exactly been forthcoming about his new project. He's never been one to preview music on Instagram like so many younger rappers, and his days of dropping free mixtapes with DJ Green Lantern are long gone. In fact, like many of hip-hop's veteran class, Em tends to treat his music like a well guarded secret. However, over the course of the years I have witnessed Eminem fans analyze every last minute detail, weaving elaborate theories about the music to come. But what is to come, exactly? The last Em verse we've heard was his feature on Big Sean's I Decided cut "No Favors," and, well...
Over the course of his career, Em has never really branched out and worked with other producers. For the bulk of his early material, the majority of the production was handled by the Bass Brothers, Dre, himself, or Denaun Porter. Eventually, he did a few joints with Just Blaze, before finding a steady chemistry with Alex Da Kid, DJ Khalil, & Rick Rubin. However, the latter tended to bring Em's music into a more stadium friendly direction, taking inspiration from classic samples and over-processed pop-rock hybrids. In short, the dark, scathing instrumentation Dr. Dre brought to the table was lost in the process, and Em lost a part of himself with it.
Ultimately, we want to see Eminem get more selective with his beats, and rediscover some of that vintage sound. There are plenty of amazing producers in the game right now, and someone like Metro Boomin' would be a perfect fit for Marshall. Even some classic Detroit names like Black Milk would be a good look, but seriously, no more stadium rock. Who are some producers you'd love to see Eminem work with?
A Tee Grizzley Feature
While Tee Grizzley is a promising emcee in his own right, Eminem doesn't exactly need him to sell records. Still, including a dope Detroit emcee would be an excellent symbolic gesture, and a track featuring Tee Grizzley and Royce Da 5'9", for example, would be pretty welcome in my books. Eminem is already exploring new ground by working with 2 Chainz, so who knows what kind of chemistry he might have with a young rapper like Tee Grizz?
Despite being nearly fifty, Jay-Z recently delivered what many critics felt to be his best album in years, 4:44. The honesty, maturity, and wisdom Jay was able to bring to the table was a fry cry from some of his cartoonishly lavish (BASQUIATS!!!!) subject matter of years past. Ideally, Em would take a page out of Jigga's book when it comes time to release his new project. No more references to pooping, buttholes, fast food, & K-Mart. No more references to raping and or murdering pop stars and other celebrities.
Em has been a legend in the game for almost two decades now, and is in a unique position to reflect accordingly. Ultimately, Em needs to throw on those metaphorical socks and sandals, tell some kids to get off his lawn, and drop some grown man music. What do you think?