After exercising some demons on Relapse and getting a pass from fans, expectations were high for Eminem's quick follow-up, Recovery. Then, when the project dropped and sounded sappier and more label-inspired than maybe anything the Detroit rapper had ever released, longtime supporters were led to wonder if they were witnessing the end of an era, as one of the genre's most individualistic entertainers was conforming for the betterment of his SoundScan numbers.
Still, despite the lack of replay value Slim Shady's last effort got, fans eagerly reared their heads at news last fall that an impending eighth album from the famed Motor City MC was indeed in the works. Although details were vague, simply hinting at the project had certain fans of the iconic rapper salivating at the mouth, while tightly crossing their fingers, hoping the mishaps that held back Marshall's last project don't occur again.
Since we happen to share that sentiment and want only the best from the best, here are eight expectations we have for Eminem's next album, which shouldn't be too much to ask for.
1. Tone Down The Flow
When Slim started to up the syllable count on Drake’s star-studded debut album single, we figured his rapid-fire delivery was chosen specifically to stand-out from the fellow A-List competition. However, two albums and and a few years worth of guest appearances later, the BPM never declined and we’re getting a little worn out by Marshall’s unorthodox super-flow. Not only is his rhythm too stop and go, but the maniacal punchlines he’s trying to squeeze in are hard to pick up when he’s fitting in so many words, creating an unnecessary sense of clutter and making it seem like the 313 MC is forcing out complicated rhymes simply to sound complex.
For the upcoming album, let’s hope Em realizes he’s been master of his domain for some time and doesn’t need to prove himself to anyone. That way, he can lighten up a bit and focus on the content of his songs and less on the rhyme schemes.
2. More Original Concepts
As the author behind “Guilty Conscious,” “The Kids” and “Stan,” among countless others, Eminem has shown time and time again he’s capable of crafting conceptual gems. These intricate and original songs not only serve as focal points to most of his albums, but career highlights in retrospect. However, after the extremely experimental Relapse let Slim Shady go wild, Recovery delivered much more refined concept songs, which seemed forced and watered down.
If Em wants to add more greatest hits, instead of songs that simply chart well, he needs to dig deeper into his sense of creativity and pen the next imaginative classic we all know he's capable of.
3. Beats By Dre
No, not the f*cking headphones. The bangers. The classics. The culture-defining musical statements that were heavy enough to reignite the torch ten years after lighting it and still significant enough to carry that flame into the homes of millions, even in today's significantly different musical landscape. No matter the status of the culture, the fact is Dr. Dre will always be one of the world's most gifted music producers and picking back up the craft that's allowed him to move on to other endeavors should not only be a breeze, but something Eminem’s mentor has been patiently waiting for - especially after overseeing Good Kid m.A.A.d. City and not producing one song.
Plus, it's no secret Slim shines much brighter over the Doc’s simplistic rap brilliance than grandiose pop records from someone like Alex Da Kidd.
4. Grown-Up Content
Another aspect Eminem will need to embrace is the simple fact he’s almost 40 years old and raising two high-school age daughters. As someone who’s used to stirring the pot with his off-the-wall antics, seizing his role as one of Hip-Hop’s wise, elder statesman might seem far-fetched. However, Em embracing that natural progression would help his music adapt with the times, providing fans with a more pertinent perspective from him as an MC and Marshall himself with added peace of mind - similar to what we saw last year with Nas and Life Is Good, which got it's name for a reason.
5. Passing Of The Torch
Respect to Watch The Throne and Wayne, but on a cursory level, Eminem has ruled rap since the turn of the millennium. That fact may be debated, but is hard to argue from a sheer talent standpoint. Even if the 8 Mile resider was speaking through the POV of a slurred serial killer or writing around other people’s hooks, his technical pen game still shined as one of the brightest amongst the genre, even past his mainstream prime. But, as Em’s gotten older, competition is inevitably catching up and this upcoming album would be the perfect time to pass the torch to MCs he feels can uphold his throne.
Whether Slim features a Detroit-heavy murderers row with Danny Brown and Big Sean or a conceptual masterpiece with someone like Kendrick Lamar or Yelawolf, allowing himself to potentially get murdered on his own track might be a gentleman’s way of acknowledging the next generation of talent, as well as ensuring a worthy predecessor first-hand.
6. Fewer Songs
Between Relapse and Recovery, there were 37 songs. That doesn’t include any iTunes bonus tracks, either. Needless to say, that’s an unnecessary amount of music in today’s fast-paced landscape and Em needs to ensure his creative output doesn’t get the best of him and water down another album with material. There were about four songs on Recovery that felt identical, making all of them less potent as a result and the LP more boring, in general. This go round, let’s hope Slim goes the all killer, no filler route and gives us less product with more staying power.
7. Decreased Label Influence
Yes, we realize this is far from realistic. However, in a better world, Eminem would have earned the right to be able to dictate the content of his eighth album by now, especially as a sober and seasoned veteran of the business. So, even though a label-free LP is a long shot, let’s hope that Jimmy Iovine’s squad will lay off this make or break album with fans and allow Slim’s penmanship to shine, without forcing him to make sacrifices that cater to music’s current landscape (“No Love”) or marketing revenue (“We Made You”). Plus, at this point, Em shouldn't be Interscope's priority anymore. If they move on together, everyone will benefit.
8. "Renegade Pt. 2"
Is this too much to ask for? Would a long-awaited sequel to one of the best featured rap tracks ever really be that out of the question? Despite the fact it’s been more than a decade since these two cultural icons were mixing up the pot on The Blueprint, recreating chemistry between two of the most competitive rhymers ever shouldn’t be a problem. Plus, Jay owes Eminem two things. One guest verse and a lyrical butt-whooping to boot. Hopefully, Slim finally gives him the opportunity with this album. However, whether he'd be able to return the favor is a whole other story.