What is Eminem in his element? An unsettling mix of hostility and genius, looping syllables like some jack pretending to be joker. Makes homicide his home. Prattles on about bowel movements. It all rhymes very perfectly.
Then there is his stadium sound. “Phenomenal” interplays boasting pervert Eminem with quasi-paranoid Marshall, as afraid of and reassured by his own success as any king. Bootstrap talk from the self-proclaimed Rap Elvis? Set that to simple chord progressions and that nasal whine droning at you about climbing up a hill. Eminem rhymes in spite of himself. The templates he’s chosen since Relapse favor knotted phrases charging already subdued instrumentals. Reams of words just pouring all over each other. About barbecuing Martha Stewart?
“The only thing I’m capable of is amazing” he spouts, almost as if he believes this screwy Halloween song is a peak. “Phenomenal” has an ironic title because it is so middle-of-the-road, as a rock-rap rehash and as an Eminem white flag. He’s been waving these for four years.
Yet we continue to ignore him.