“Music to Be Murdered By” Murders Ears

Jeremiah Booth, In-depth Writer

Rapper Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, released a surprise album once again. “Music to be Murdered By,” was released on Friday January 17, 2020. This follow-up album to 2018’s “Kamikaze,” which was also released without a warning, was announced on his Twitter just after midnight. He borrowed the title and cover art for “Music to Be Murdered By” from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 macabre album of the same name. 

Eminem’s 11th studio album, “Music to Be Murdered By,” contains 20 new tracks with a runtime of 1 hour and four minutes. The rap legend may have embraced and taken advantage of an era where streaming is at an all-time high but doesn’t take notice of the short attention spans. 

The album begins with “Premonition (Intro),” a song that slams the critics who slammed Kamikaze, which began with a track that slams critics who slammed “Revival. Eminem is angry because after over 20 years in the rap game and countless album sales he still doesn’t get the respect he feels he deserves. One issue is that he keeps on going back to year-old grudges.  

The problem for him lately is that proving oneself is just a matter of “spitting bars.” He does this on “You Gon’ Learn” (featuring Royce da 5’9” and White Gold) and the rest of “Music to Be Murdered By” with precision. Most of his verses follow the same design. He opens the track with slow taunts, he then finds the flow and begins rhyming words just to rhyme, and finally he jumps into his well-known hyper speed flow that requires a read-through from Genius to understand what he’s saying. 

Over half of the songs sound like nothing on rap charts right now, which isn’t meant to be a compliment. The verses on “Stepdad” make for a murder fantasy but the singsong chorus sounds like it’s trying to parody itself. The features of pop artists only worsen this, for example, Skylar Grey adds a mellow vibe to the rap-rock song “Leaving Heaven,” and Ed Sheeran does the same with “Those Kinda Nights,” which clearly sounds like a remold of Liam Payne and Quavo’s song “Strip That Down.” 

Eminem has taken pop-rap songs to the number one spot on charts with tracks “Love the Way You Lie” and “The Monster,” both featuring Rihanna, but this strategy makes no sense on an album whose sound and aesthetic are obviously meant to re-establish him as a shock-rap artist. 

One good thing is that “Music to Be Murdered By” does have a good number of lyrics that are bound to make headlines. He uses the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing on “Unaccommodating (featuring Young M.A).” He raps, “But I’m contemplating yelling ‘Bombs away’ on the game, like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting.” This is because he’s going to “kill the rap game” which means trivializing one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in British history and poking at the trauma of a 26-year-old woman. 

The thing about this is, rap has no rules, and Eminem has been doing this for over 20 years. The main issue with this is that just six songs later, on “Darkness,” he recreates the actions of the gunman who open fired on the 2017 Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas. He juxtaposes the shooter’s preparation with the pre-show ritual of a nervous musician. He highlights the narcissistic streak that runs through so many white, male, domestic terrorists. The song ends with a compilation of footage reporting on the Las Vegas shooting and various school shootings. 

“When will this end? When enough people care,” Eminem’s website currently reads below a link to the “Darkness” video. He has spent the past 20 years glorifying violence and spewing misogynistic and homophobic criticism, he even does so across most of “Music to Be Murdered By,” but this song deviates from that mentality.  

A song like “Darkness” would usually be a touching statement from another artist, but Eminem doesn’t deserve an awe-struck reaction. Instead, the song just adds to the disjointed nature of “Music to Be Murdered By,” another album of the artist’s that is weighed down by over used tactics and soulless lyrics. In a career full of headline-grabbing provocations, perhaps the one Eminem can no longer sell is sincerity.