As a long-time Eminem fan, I am very pleased with his latest album, Music To Be Murdered By: Side B, which expands upon the full-length album with the same title that he dropped at the beginning of 2020.
Music To Be Murdered By: Side B is overall more cohesive than the first part of the album. The single, “Gnat,” takes on the COVID-19 pandemic in true Eminem fashion by poking fun at social distancing, mask-wearing, the “stay-at-home order scene” and more. In terms of the track being radio-friendly, though, it falls short of singles like “Godzilla” from side A of the album. That track had a better beat, was catchier, and more suited to today’s pop radio standards. Plus, it had Eminem breaking a record for most words rapped in the course of 30 seconds (7.23 words per second).
“Book of Rhymes” (feat. DJ Premier) is the better of the two singles. Eminem tweeted the link to the video a few weeks ago, indicating that the song is probably going to impact radio at some point soon.
— Marshall Mathers (@Eminem) December 25, 2020
The album wouldn’t be an Eminem album without songs about his critics (mostly journalists and fans and haters who wish he would put out music more like his old music). In this track, he takes on his haters, acknowledging that he spends too much time on the internet reading negative comments, especially comments comparing him to other, newer rappers. “But I need to get off the internet // I need to get on the mic // You need to get off the internet // You need to get you a life // Why you waste time just to comment on s***? // Especially s*** you don’t like // Don’t like it, don’t listen // But don’t tell me ’bout your favorite rapper rippin’ // Some s*** he didn’t write.”
This theme of addressing haters and critics is present throughout the album. In “Tone Deaf,” Eminem jokes about “being canceled” by today’s cancel culture, “I won’t stop even when my hair turns grey (I’m tone deaf) // ‘Cause they won’t stop until they cancel me,” and in “These Demons (feat. MAJ), he raps, “I get canceled like once a day // Why would I go // It’s more fun to stay.” The track even begins with him saying, “Haters are funny, man // It’s like, you’re gonna hate it no matter what it is // Yet you still click on it.” He touches on a number of topics like the constant back and forth he gets from fans and haters about what they want from his new tracks, the COVID-19 pandemic, and his infamous beef with Mariah Carey.
Side B overall has better overall that will most likely not be singles, compared to some of the duds from side A. Tracks like “Alfred’s Theme,” “Tone Deaf,” “Higher,” “These Demons” and “Killer” are real standouts. Em even calls back to his Relapse days, rapping with accents on the track “Discombobulated,” which is sure to be another fan favorite (if said fans liked Relapse, which at the time of release was not well-received, but well-known for Eminem rapping with accents throughout).
View this post on Instagram
In recent years, many Em fans have come to appreciate that album more, including Eminem himself. On his multi-platinum selling single “Rap God,” Em acknowledged that “that last Relapse CD was ehh // Perhaps I ran them accents into the ground,” but has spoken about the album in interviews, claiming he does not “hate it,” but that it isn’t his best work. Clearly, he had a change of heart to bring back a song where he raps with an accent.
“Alfred’s Theme” has one of the best beats and flows on the album. Eminem is at peak form with his rhyming and analogies here. Not only is it the longest track on the album at five minutes and 39 seconds, but it’s also my personal favorite.
“Zeus” (feat. White Gold) has Eminem apologizing to Rihanna for a song from over a decade ago that leaked where Em rapped about Rih deserving to get beat by Chris Brown. After that terrible incident happened to Rihanna, she and Eminem collaborated twice, on “Love The Way You Lie,” and “The Monster,” two of Eminem’s most successful songs to date. The diss track obviously was not well-received, and Eminem acknowledged that he never intended to release the track, but still apologized to Rihanna by rapping, “But, me, long as I re-promise to be honest // And wholeheartedly, apologies, Rihanna // For that song that leaked, I’m sorry, Ri // It wasn’t meant to cause you grief // Regardless, it was wrong of me.”
Eminem also addresses beef with Snoop Dogg on that track. Recently, Snoop said in an interview that Eminem wasn’t in his top-10 favorite rappers and Eminem wasn’t happy to hear that, so he rapped, “Last thing I need is Snoop doggin’ me // Man, dog, you was like a (yeah) damn God to me // Man, not really // I had “dog” backwards.”
Overall, MTBMB: Side B is one of the best Eminem albums in recent years. It’s stronger lyrically and tonally than its predecessor and is well worth multiple listens, especially to digest all the topics he addresses.
Featured Image: Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records