Track review: Eminem, 'Berzerk'

August 27, 2013|By Adam Lukach, @lucheezy | RedEye

** out of four

During Sunday's VMA Awards on MTV, Eminem lifted a publicity move straight from Jay-Z, announcing the release date of his new album during a Beats by Dre commercial, because apparently that's how old rappers announce their albums these days. This isn't just ANY album though--Em said the album would be the "Marshall Mathers LP 2," a sequel to the classic record that solidified Em's place in hip-hop lore, and it will be produced by Rick Rubin and Dr. Dre, no less.

Not surprisingly, the first single from the LP, called "Berzerk," sounds cut straight from the Beastie Boys' technicolor threads, or as if Rubin scraped it off some hot pavement back in 1989. It's all based around a bombastic guitar rip of Billy Squier's "The Stroke," continually crashing while Em tries to unsheath a little shock value and the rapping chops we haven't heard in years: "Now this s---'s about to kick off, this party looks wack/Let's take it back to straight hip-hop and start it from scratch/I'm 'bout to bloody this track up, everybody get back/That's why my pen needs a pad cause my rhymes on the raaag/Just like I did with addiction I'm 'bout to kick it."

That's the vibe: the retro, bringing-back-hip-hop aesthetic that's come in various forms recently from Kendrick Lamar or Joey Bada$$, but this is one of the greats. Which makes sense, until you hear him try to sing on the hook. It's definitely not old Em, but it's not quite like the new Em either, so that's a net gain.

Even with the squawking, his single's a vast improvement over "Survival," and while it's still a shell compared to most of "MM LP1" material, maybe this super-traditional rap song is a gateway drug to finding some of his old power, though it seems unlikely at this point.

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