Fifteen years in the game and Eminem and Paul Rosenburn’s label Shady Records has delivered an album that reflects exactly that, fifteen years worth of music and hard work. SHADYXV, consists of two discs, the first is packed with 12-tracks worth of new material from the likes of Slaughterhouse, Yelawolf and the main man himself, Eminem. While the second disc serves as a compilation of greatest hits and reminds us all of the imprint left by the Shady Records team. Although the days of 50 Cent and G-Unit crew have passed, their songs are still featured and solidifies the second disc. It features hits like “Lose Yourself” (Eminem) “P.I.M.P” (50 Cent) “My Band” (D12) and “Wanna Know” (Obie Trice). Long followers of Eminem and the likes will definitely enjoy the mix of songs.
The album art itself perfectly represents the experience and overall mood that will be set throughout the record. The immense aggression and grit attached to every track is not anything new to the followers of Eminem but his evolution through these emotions as he grows older in the industry is apparent.
Eminem starts the album off with “ShadyXV”, a five-minute track of a simple beat layered over by Eminem’s “stream of consciousness” type lyrics. The topics covered are also ones that we’ve heard before, his digs at other musicians, high levels of self-awareness mixed in with the vicious confidence that is part of the Eminem brand name.
The rest of the first disc follows in suit with songs circling around various dark topics. Songs like “Psychopath Killer” (Slaughterhouse, Yelawolf, Eminem) “Die Alone” (Eminem, Kobe) “Twisted” (Skylar Grey, Eminem, Yelawolf) “Guts Over Fear” (Sia, Eminem) “Right for Me” (Eminem) are high points of the album. These tracks sound as though a lot of effort was put into them and rightly so because they shine over the rest.
Yelawolf’s eerie hook in “Psychopath Killer” anchors the song while the lyricism of Royce da 5’9”, KXNG CROOKED and Eminem really send the song to the next level. “Die Alone” sends everyone back to the very beginning of angry Eminem. His balancing of angry and clever earn this song merit and is a song that begs to be listened to over and over.
“Guts Over Fear” is the feature song on this album because of it’s high-profile collaboration with Sia. She is not with Shady Records but nevertheless makes the cut onto the album. Eminem really begins to tell a story through this track, he sends the listener back to beginning of his notable career. His transparency is at it’s very peak and he lends the listener a look into the inner workings of his life. From having to change his style to make it in the industry, his own inner conflict, and most surprisingly, his thankfulness to mother. He says, “But thank you, ma, ‘cause that gave me the/ Strength to cause Shady-mania, so many empty that/ stadium”. This song is truly a deep cut into his life and if it is not enjoyed by the masses it should at least be treated with respect as it’s filled with personal and deep meaning.
Songs that fell short included “Vegas” (Bad Meets Evil) “Bane” (D12) and “Fine Line” (Eminem). With the whole album following the same message, it’s easy for songs to begin to blend together and start sounding the same. Although a lot of songs were able to stand out and shine on their own, these songs were unfortunately lost in the mix. Generic and no anchor to really hold their own, they we swept away with the tide and easily forgot about.
Overall, the album was above average but not Eminem’s greatest work to date. His attempt to trace back to his roots and to his earlier style have somewhat succeeded. The every song ranges around the 4-5 minute mark and although it seems like artists these days are constantly moving forward and experiment with their sound, Eminem’s subject matter does not permit him to do so. Hardcore fans of Eminem might want to buy the whole album but if you’re just getting into Eminem and his rap style, there is no harm in shopping around and warming up to earlier albums before jumping straight into this one.