Slaughterhouse – Welcome to: Our House album review

6 months ago the general public got its first taste of Welcome to: Our House when Funkmaster Flex played “Hammer Dance” on his radio show. Featuring a sample from Korn’s “Falling Away from Me” and production work from AraabMuzik, this song was a surprising single from Slaughterhouse.

Composed of Joe Budden, Royce da 5’9”, Joell Ortiz, and Crooked I, this group is a legitimate powerhouse in Hip-Hop. Each one of these MCs can hold their own and have a flow adaptable to almost any situation.

Almost being the operative word. Eminem is brought on to Executive Produce the album, which ends up hurting more than it helps. Welcome to: Our World shines on tracks that are far from Eminem’s trademark sound, and that allow the other rappers to play off of one another.

“Our House” embodies the issue perfectly. With a verse from Em and a hook from Skylar Grey, the song ends up being a bloated 6-minutes long because of 3 more verses from Slaughterhouse. The beat sounds like it was tailor-made for Recovery and is completely out of place.

That being said, there are plenty of great moments on this album that wisely get as far from the Eminem aesthetic as possible. “Get Up” finds the group rapping over drums that clip aggressively, and a keyboard line that keeps the momentum going. No I.D.’s clever sampling of “Ali in the Jungle” by The Hours does wonders for all of Slaughterhouse, but Royce Da 5’9” absolutely demolishes his verse.

Towards the end of the record is “Goodbye,” which finds Slaughterhouse being surprisingly poignant and emotional. A lot of rappers’ attempts at eulogizing their loved ones comes off heavy-handed, but this track does an incredible job of being honest while not being sappy. Ortiz’s verse stands out as it perfectly engulfs the listener in the whirlwind days before a funeral.

After numerous delays and a huge amount of hype, it’d be easy to dismiss Welcome to: Our House, but the pure talent and natural charisma between the 4 members cannot be played down. That is, when they’re fifth wheel isn’t demanding his presence be known.

Show Review – Eminem at the Osheaga Music Festival, Montreal

After more than a decade with a lack of Slim Shady, Montreal was graced with the Detroit-native white rapper just last night. Eminem grabbed hold of the record setting crowd (in the six-year old festival’s history) of 38 000, and refused to let go. As his show-opening track states, Shady just “Won’t Back Down.”

Eminem had stopped performing live back in 2005 when his drug addiction started to seriously interfere with his health. However, he’s been making a comeback to the stage in the past year, mainly performing at European music festivals, as well as Tennessee’s Bonnaroo earlier this summer. He also did a set of shows with Jay-Z last year at Yankee Stadium and Comerica Park in New York and Detroit, respectively. Even then, his performances are few and far in between, and an Eminem concert is not something that’s easy to come by. Montreal thought they were in for a treat.

And they most certainly thought right. Eminem played hit after hit, usually rapping the first verse and chorus, then moving on to the next track. While odd at first, it still somehow worked. “3 a.m.” flowed directly into “Square Dance,” both of which were short-lived. And believe me, the thunderous crowd didn’t mind it at all. Em took a pause and asked, “Montreal, how many of you have ever had beef with your parents?” And broke right into “Cleanin’ Out My Closet.” Royce da 5’9″ even joined him up on stage to spit out a couple of songs from the new Bad Meets Evil album, Hell: The Sequel. When they dropped “Lighters,” the crowd actually lit up with a “sky full of lighters” and cell phones.

The hits kept on coming, with “Stan” and “Love the Way You Lie” getting huge reactions. The Eminem we had been waiting to see all summer came out in full force in each stanza of his rhymes, and his sporadic pacing on stage. Audience members waved their arms, bounced to the beat and didn’t stop roaring. Definite highlight of the night: “Space Bound” was performed live for the first time. It may not have gotten as big a cheer as the encore “Lose Yourself” did, but it felt truly special to see and hear the Recovery track rapped for its first time in front of the massive amount of Eminem fans.

Negatives? None. Sheer perfection from one of the most talented, yet controversial, artists of our time. I think we all just wish we could’ve had Em on stage just a bit longer, so he could perform more songs in their entirety. Choice words: Loud, in your face, and on fire… even if there was a lack of pyrotechnics. If you can make it out to a show of Eminem’s, don’t even hesitate. Go ahead and simply “Lose Yourself.”

Setlist

Bad Meets Evil – Hell: The Sequel album review

I’m going to say this right off the bat: Bad Meets Evil’s album Hell: the Sequel is probably not going to sway you one way or another about Eminem. I was truly hoping for a mind-changer, as I call it – a song, an experience, a revelation that can completely transform your opinion of an artist – but alas, I was not rewarded.

Let me backtrack a bit by saying that, lyrically, there’s nothing wrong with Eminem or Royce Da 5’9”, Eminem’s other half in Bad Meets Evil. Hell: The Sequel is a compilation of supremely timed verse-spitting, with Eminem and Royce trading bars with effortless ease and throwing down fiery lyrics that are so well enunciated they could act as the beat itself (see: “Fast Lane”). In fact, sometimes I wish they did.

Which brings me to my next point. I’ve never been a huge fan of the melodic part of Eminem’s songs. When I think of Eminem, my mind is whisked back to eighth grade; I’m just coming into my rap maturity and the pubescent boys in my class are torturing me at recess, backing themselves up toward me and boorishly repeating, “my bum is on your lips, my bum is on your lips.” Shudder. Ok, so I have deep-seeded personal issues with this particular song, but the annoyance factor found on the track “The Real Slim Shady” off the album The Marshall Mathers LP – both lyrically and musically – continues throughout Eminem’s career. And it doesn’t stop with Hell: The Sequel.

While Hell: The Sequel stands out on a few levels –lines upon lines of piercing lyricism, well-timed verses – the rest of it falls flat. In general, Hell: The Sequel doesn’t stray too far from what Eminem’s done in the past. He’s still spouting homophobic slurs, he’s still claiming he’ll stomp on lesser rap fools, and he’s still the good old playboy we all know, as evidenced by the lyric “if you ain’t suckin’ a dick, why you sittin’ there?” in the track “A Kiss.” Sound familiar?

The real turning point for me, though, happened when I heard the track “Lighters”. This song can only be characterized one way: disaster. Maybe I’m unfairly biased against Bruno Mars, and I’m probably in the minority; that’s fine, I can live with that. But this track proves to me what I just didn’t want to be true — Hell: The Sequel was made for radio play, plain and simple. “Lighters’” sweet-sounding melody combined with Mars’s sensual boy band-reminiscent voice will no doubt incite gaggles of 14-year-old girls to exclaim praise on their Facebooks. It’s a con, it’s dirty, and it has nothing to do with the rest of the album. Hell: The Sequel is simply not for 14-year-old girls.

Lesser-known but no less talented Royce Da 5’9” (or Nickel Nine as he’s also known) is a formidable force on Hell: The Sequel as he proves he can throw down intoxicating wordplay right on par with Eminem. While, yes, he’s one half of Bad Meets Evil, I still can’t blame him for the lackluster beats because, in my mind, that’s Eminem’s domain. That’s how he’s been doing it since the album “Infinite” in 1996, and that’s how he does it now. Royce’s album “Street Hop” (2009) can prove my point that what’s lacking on Hell: The Sequel is simply not his fault.

Listen to Hell: The Sequel. I promise mind-blowing rhyming skills. I promise laugh-out-loud entertainment. I don’t promise something you’ve never heard before.