Who would have thought that after Eminem appropriated his timeless rap skills to the pop world with Recovery (to nauseating results in the opinion of this humble author), he’d come back with a project that sees him returning to his Slim Shady roots with old parter-in-rhyme Royce Da 5’9″?
There was a time when the two Motor City rhymers weren’t the best of friends. Like when Royce was part of the Aftermath team and his manager told a major rap mag that Royce was schooling Dr. Dre like a teacher (the acclaimed producer’s ego was hurt, he told Royce to ditch his manager or leave Aftermath, Royce stuck with his longtime manager) and when Nickel Nine had beef with the late great Proof (which was resolved right before the latter passed).
Thankfully, that’s water under the bridge, and since Royce’s group Slaughterhouse has been courted by Eminem’s Shady Records, the two have reignited a long friendship and reinvigorated their musical chemistry. The last time they collaborated on record was Eminem’s debut album The Slim Shady LP on the track titled “Bad Meets Evil,” where the title of this EP (which is actually the length of an LP, go figure) comes from.
There are almost no concepts like on Recovery or Royce’s less popular but equally concept-driven Death Is Certain, but goddamn if there is not insane lyricism coupled with the distorted sense of humor longtime fans of the two will recognize. Eminem is still doing the whole yelling rap thing, but here it is not as abrasive as before. When he yells that he’d like to stick his penis in Nicki Minaj’s anus, it’s a laugh-out-loud moment. But while Em is very visibly flexing his rap muscles all over this record, Royce seems much more collected and confident in his content and delivery, though never forsaking lyrical dexterity or hilarious punchlines.
I will say that my only qualm with this is the goddawful Bruno Mars-assisted “Lighters.” Why on earth would they ruin such a simple, good idea with this trite attempt at a pop-accessible song is beyond me, there is nothing Bad or Evil about that song except subjugating the listener to it. Yes, the content is personal and heartfelt, but that’s not what fans want out of a Royce and Eminem album, save that tripe for Recovery 2.