black and white Eminem on stage
image: Mika Photography/ Wikimedia Commons

Eminem: can a new album redeem his fading image?

Eminem has popularly been hailed as the greatest rapper alive. This sheer fact introduces a huge pressure on his latest album, which is rumoured to currently be in production. However, based on his recent attempts to regain his musical mojo, think the mediocre reception of Kamikaze (2018) and Revival (2017), can his new album redeem his fading image? Or will it just secure his place as a jaded relic of the hip-hop Hall of Fame? 

Fellow rapper and collaborator 50 Cent was the first to reveal that new music was in the works. “I got another record from Em he sent for his new album,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview last month, confirming a future musical partnership between the pair. More fuel was added to the fire with a since-deleted video on Eminem’s YouTube channel, mystifying fans and critics alike with a four-minute jazz track under the title ‘The Real Slim Shady.’

But who is ‘The Real Slim Shady’ now? The best-selling musical artist of the 2000s is now struggling to keep his head above water with the wave of young, fresher rappers in the hip-hop scene. This struggle to stay on top can be seen through his most recent collaboration. For instance, his 2018 track ‘River’ featuring pop singer Ed Sheeran led many fans to believe he was selling out. This was further corroborated by critics such as Andy Kush who called it a ‘glittering monument to banality.’ 

 But who is ‘The Real Slim Shady’ now?

Although the quality of his latest work could lead you to believe that Em’s upcoming album may be his last, one sure-fire way he will stay in the spotlight and something that is almost guaranteed to be at the center of his new music, is through his feuds with fellow musicians.

Many will remember the viral fallout between the Missouri-born rapper and his younger contemporary Machine Gun Kelly, which resulted in Eminem’s renowned diss track ‘Killshot; rounding up over 300 million views on YouTube, this ensured the rapper remained relevant with younger generations. This has been a long-time practice of the rapper. With feuds with the likes of Mariah Carey and Ja Rule, he has produced diss tracks that have garnered an equal amount of attention to the quality of his lyrics.  

Now over a year since the Machine Gun Kelly fallout, who is the latest on Eminem’s firing line? Brand Nubian rapper Lord Jamar is the most recent to diss his fellow rapper, controversially stating: “black people…don’t listen to Eminem.” After his previous remarks – such as calling Em “a guest in the house of hip-hop” in 2013 fans expect the rapper’s name to be slandered in at least one of his new tracks. A visit to Eminem’s Twitter account only stirs the pot further: “People think they want this problem ’til they get it” Em wrote in late August. This was possibly during the time period of his new album’s recording, giving fans a rather bitter taste of what we can expect from his next offering. 

Fans can rest assured that his new music will be as outrageous as we would hope  

Whilst we can anticipate what Eminem’s new work will consist of, for his more hard-line fans it cannot compete with his music at the height of his fame in the 1990s and early 2000s. The ‘Marshall Mathers LP’, released at the turn of the century, is a prime example of what most feel is missing from his latest work. A mix of personal, anecdotal tracks such as ‘Kim’ andStan’ showed a more vulnerable side to the rapper, whilst The Real Slim Shadydeveloped Em’s cocky, obnoxious persona to it’s fullest potential. In more recent years, however, that character seems to have been lost behind the inevitable oncoming of age, which has led the star to become almost redundant in a rap-game he used to rule. 

Despite the cryptic nature of the direction and quality of Em’s upcoming music, one thing is clear: fans know what they want from the new album. As said in critic Dan Stubbs’ ‘Kamikaze’ review, “We like Eminem when he’s angry”, and the raw emotion that was so prevalent in his earlier offerings is at the center of what fans feel is lacking in his now off-kilter tracks. Based on his latest social media presence, fans can rest assured that his new music will be as outrageous and opinionated as we would hope. However, can Eminem’s usual raging and resentful lyrics  correspond with the quality of his verse?

Eminem, the musician who once used his emotive personal experiences and fiery power to appeal to the masses now seems to be all burnt out. You could watch this space, but you probably won’t miss much if you don’t. 

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