Album Reviews

Bad Meets Evil – Hell: The Sequel

on June 15, 2011, 8:00am
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Let’s go ahead and assume you’re familiar with the name Eminem. If you aren’t, you definitely weren’t at Bonnaroo last weekend, and you more than likely stumbled onto this website by mistake, and we thank you for your accidental readership. But if you’ll just hit that little button at the top of your browser that’s shaped like a house, that’ll get you back to where you want to be. Everyone else: “Welcome to the album”, as Shady says on album opener, “Welcome 2 Hell”.

Royce da 5’9”, however, you may not be as familiar with, and that’s sort of how he likes it. Royce is a fellow Detroit rapper, and has maintained a personal and professional relationship with Eminem since the mid to late ’90s, after being introduced to one another through mutual Detroit acquaintance, the late MC Proof.  The man’s an underground heavyweight, with five solo albums under his belt, and two with his project Slaughterhouse – a collaboration with fellow underground rappers Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden, and Crooked I. But it wasn’t until very recently that he started gaining limelight attention, mostly due to Eminem’s signing Slaughterhouse to Shady Records back in January.

Em and Royce have pursued very minor collaborations here and there, most notably on the song “Bad Meets Evil” on Eminem’s major label debut, The Slim Shady LP. But Royce was a Detroit underground champ, and Eminem was a budding rap superstar, and they eventually went their separate ways (this was partially due to a falling out between Royce and members of Shady’s own project D12). But after 13 years, the time has come for the old friends to rebuild some burnt bridges and dust off an old project, Bad Meets Evil.

Previous collaborations were built under the blueprint of Royce da 5’9” representing the “bad,” and Em manning the “evil.” It’s a theme they follow on this EP (if you can call a nine track, 40 minute effort an EP), Royce throwing down some majorly angry raps, and Slim doling out his signature blatantly malevolent rhymes for the entirety of the album.

On the whole, it’s an effective strategy. Eminem’s irrefutable star power complements (and sometimes boosts) Royce’s untamed swagger, making for a very winning combination. Two very different worlds collide on this album, and it’s nice to see the two rappers stepping out of their respective comfort zones. Slim Shady’s top 40 pop sensibility and Royce’s “underground only” mindset are both tossed out the window, and the two arrive at a middle ground that’s explosive and exciting. The rap itself is absolutely second to none. Lead single “Fastlane” is hands down one of the best hip-hop tracks of 2011, and the narrative “The Reunion” sets the precedent for the rest of the duo’s antics, and presents it in a captivating way.

Unfortunately, the natural propensity of both MCs for raw hip hop only minimally softens the blow of this album’s major flaws, which are separated into two very distinguishable categories: weak-minded production accompanied by absurd, silly hooks, and an utter lack of variation behind each track. The result is something pretty formulaic: a very Eminem-sounding beat intro/weak verse by rapper A/weak verse by rapper B/chorus/strong verse by rapper A/strong verse by rapper B/chorus/outro. And even though this is completely acceptable on a collaborative rap track, it grows tiresome after it’s done on all nine tracks here.

This album’s biggest downfall, though, lies in its production. Not only are the beats very predictable, they’re occasionally abrasively silly. Remember how Relapse sounded all kinds of bizarre, and it seemed like the contemplative, serious Eminem was gone and his Middle Eastern alter ego had completely taken over? It’s a similar feeling for 85 percent of this album. Eminem’s lines are fairly controlled, but the subject matter is frivolous, and the hooks are downright far-fetched. Take the Mike Epps vocal-sampling track “I’m On Everything”, for example: “I’m on syrup, painkillers, cigarettes, weed, Hennessy, vodka, ha ha, huh, ha ha, huh.” Bear in mind, that’s the hook, so you hear that obnoxious thing a half dozen times. It’s obviously a track about drugs and alcohol, but it’s so obvious and presented in such an obnoxious way that it’s hard to enjoy anything that’s going on. This track in particular is a direct re-visitation of the Relapse era we all hoped Em had put behind him. And, as the album progresses, we see that less-lovable, silly side of Eminem more and more, and Royce switches his usual style to match the mood.

The epitome of this trend hits on the seventh track, a collaboration with Bruno Mars, of all people, entitled “Lighters”. This one’s downfall isn’t so much its silliness, but its completely paradoxical mashup of one of mainstream rap’s biggest badasses, one of underground’s most devoted stalwarts, and a smooth crooner. The hook is schmaltzy beyond belief, and does not belong anywhere near a legitimate rap track. Mars sings, “This one’s for you and me/Living out our dreams/we’re all right where we should be/with my arms out wide/I open my eyes/and now all I wanna see/is a sky full of lighters/a sky full of lighters.” The hook is catchy enough, and it’s conceivable that this chorus would be quite palatable on a solo record, or even a collaboration with someone like Willow Smith or Far East Movement. But it is so far from home next to the hard verses of two of rap’s bad boys.

Even though Eminem soars at times and reaches down to help an old friend and colleague spread his wings, this effort is a step back for both rappers. Eminem suffers because this marks a very obvious deviation from his course to “recovery”, and shows a big return to the legend’s goofy side, one that’s been immensely criticized in years past. Royce da 5’ 9” suffers because this is his major label debut, in a way. This album is going to receive quadruple the press that any of his previous efforts did, and it shows the gritty MC getting silly with Eminem and not bringing everything he’s got to the table. On a major label debut, there is very little room to mess around and get experimental, but that’s precisely what he’s done. It’s not a great effort from either end of the duo, and it frankly leaves one wondering what could have been for such a promising pair.

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42 comments

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Guest
February 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I don’t know how you Americans see that whole album but this is how i do. I don’t understand english, see so I need to check out the lyrics all the time. the fact is that i started to listen to Eminem 10 years ago and i’m sure of one thing. “The lyrical level of Marshall is at his highest”.. And that since Relapse. Seriously, the rhymes of Relapse are insane and the one of hell> the Sequel too. Bad and Evil both rap like the devil and i’d defy anyone ine the game right now to do so (starting from your man, wayne). I really enjoyed the almost whole album except I’m on Evrything (that shit was whack). Royce… I need to say i don’t really know the guy but i need to say he did very well in taht album. In fact, just be a match for Em is a great achievement. And Royce IS.
yeah the whoel albums eminem verse is about “cunt” and “bitches”… So what. Would you rather listen to the shit them guys from Florida or i don’t know where say? All what they do is abourt ART. The rhymes are there and they are funny as fuck.
before comin back talkin shit about relapse don’t forget Relapse’s got a THEME. That’s murder, rape, drugs  etc. And the album is lyrivcally at the top of everything Em did… (Don’t get me wrong i said LYRICALLY).

Ryan Peterson
October 10, 2011 at 11:17 pm

The reviewer paradoxically shows some talent and a great deal of obtuse thinking in the same article.  We are left wondering what kind of weird linear progression the writer was hoping for in Eminem’s career.  The main sin Mr. Robbins commits is to miss the fact that for many artists, the “point” is to be ridiculous and have mindless fun for a song or two and then bring in some serious content on the same album.  I would hate to see this uptight pseudo-intellectual crap applied to,say, a jazz artist.

Whatever-this album kicks ass.

X-session_93
September 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm

i thought this was a review… you jackass piece of shit!

NadaJudgeWhoreJury
August 29, 2011 at 10:58 am

That’s the whole point of the ‘whackest metaphor’ you speak of! He’s already set the bar YEARS ago,  and nobody can touch it. BTW Chinos line there IS dope, but NOT a metaphor.
“…I’ll be back baby, I just gotta beat this clock FvCK this clock I’ma make EAT this watch, dont believe me? Watch. I’ma win this race, and I’ma come back and rub my sh1t in your face 8itch I found my niche you gonna hear my voice, till ya sick of it, you aint gonna have a choice. If I gotta scream till I have half a lung, if I have one chance I’ma grab it, rabbit run.” (<not the 'bar' but a random OLD piece of what I'm sayin'!)

NadaJudgeWhoreJury
August 29, 2011 at 10:38 am

HAHAHA…Maybe the first time I’ve read a negative comment and actually laughed out loud!…’a’ average MC, maybe you would understand had you passed your english class in the 5th grade….. you still mad about the old beef with Canibus, huh!?!  I do agree with the hypocritical aspect though, but it’s not like Em was riding the dick of BRUNO MARS!

For the record, I think his (Bruno Mars) shit’s alright, even great at times but c’mon…Eminem’s light years ahead with his music. He does NOT need ANYONE to help promote his shit!

NadaJudgeWhoreJury
August 29, 2011 at 10:23 am

In regard to your comment on “Lighters”; It’s art brother…sometimes you have to color outside the lines. I cant think of ONE song to take the amount of ‘risk’ they did with that track and taking risks is where people find the most incredible things, sometimes. It’s really just a subjective matter of taste, not the greatest, not the worst! I personally like the tracks unique feel.

HuMi2critiSizeU
August 29, 2011 at 9:46 am

What a fvckin joke of a review! Is this cat serious? There’s certain levels of fortune, fame, music and LIFE that the ‘writer’, Winston Robbins, may never understand. I think this dude’s on too many drugs to comprehend what he’s heard from this EP. Sometimes…SOMEtimes, it’s not all about selling records. This is ART pal, wake up and realize that these two people are PEOPLE…not just ‘dope rappers’…Some people just dont get it.

Superman_102092
August 22, 2011 at 6:19 pm

 Dude your a jackass. Did you even listen to the album. Royce held his own against Eminem like Ive never seen before. Name one person that has rapped alongside eminem and had a better verse. You can’t unless you like lil wayne which is jus dumb cuz he cant even rap hes horrible but everybody i in love with him. Royce not only was good on the album he was great his shit was raw and is different then talkin about money and drugs. And the watch the throne ablbum blew dick its to weak rappers joining together to talk about how much money they have. The rap game is so weak right now, without Eminem the game would be irrelvent

Ccareloc
August 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm

“Shouldn’t have to explain my metaphorsYou has-beens are duller than color books that ain’t colored in”   -Eminem

FatboyAaron
August 9, 2011 at 7:13 pm

I WOULD RATE THIS FUCKING 5 AND A HALF STARS FUCK EVERYONE WHO THINKS OTHERWISE THIS ALBUM AND/OR EMINEM WILL CHANGE THE WORLD

Ulquiorra
July 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I agree with the reviewer. Common, Bruno Mars? I respect the guy though I couldn’t care shitless about his music. He has no place on a Bad Meets Evil album. Frankly, I’m surprised that they were even able to work together at all. Kinda the same way i was when i heard Eminem with Rihanna.
The rhymes were tight, but not all the songs were great, near the standard set by Fast Lane. Listen to Royce’s Rock City, or Street Hop, you’ll see that he was just tagging along with Eminem inspired antics on this album. Probably was Eminem’s idea to get Bruno Mars on…
I wanted something completely hood with very few concessions.
In the end good album, not great as it should be.

Phil
July 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I don’t agre Winston! Sure production is weak, granted and some hooks are dodgy but there are no crappy choruses or singing etc (well a tiny bit) but we can all get past these flaws when the lyrics and rapping are at the standard they are. This is the most exciting thing I have heard come out of the mainstream  ”hip hop” world in years ! And I am sure I am not alone! The bruno one really grows on you, its just a shame about the chart murdering it will receive!

Indespensablejatt
July 4, 2011 at 1:59 am

great album…….just cant get enuff of it……a collaboration worth listening to!!!!

Dog_8790
June 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm

you can see the variations between this and recovery other than flow style he plays off the whole alter ego. saying on ‘not afraid’ he didnt like relapse and on this he likes it. which i think is due to the battle of new and old fans (read any comments on youtube) shady is preffered by fans from day 1 and new fans want the love the way you lie eminem you see on lighters… 

Dog_8790
June 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm

you can see the variations between this and recovery other than flow style he plays off the whole alter ego. saying on ‘not afraid’ he didnt like relapse and on this he likes it. which i think is due to the battle of new and old fans (read any comments on youtube) shady is preffered by fans from day 1 and new fans want the love the way you lie eminem you see on lighters… 

Dog_8790
June 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm

you can see the variations between this and recovery other than flow style he plays off the whole alter ego. saying on ‘not afraid’ he didnt like relapse and on this he likes it. which i think is due to the battle of new and old fans (read any comments on youtube) shady is preffered by fans from day 1 and new fans want the love the way you lie eminem you see on lighters… 

CDMG
June 21, 2011 at 8:42 am

Reading the comments below and with the actual review itself, it is clear that the reviewer is an idiot. 4 stars would have been sufficient. But 3? Clearly delusional in his own opinion.

Dan
June 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I think it’s funny that everyone complains about the critic’s bias, yet it sounds like all of you want to blow Eminem.  Who’s really bias here?  I would say both. 

TheFrogBlogg
June 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm

What he deserves is a positive review for one of the few bright spots in a dying genre. 

djne
June 16, 2011 at 3:40 am

“Eminem suffers because this marks a very obvious deviation from his
course to “recovery”, and shows a big return to the legend’s goofy side,
one that’s been immensely criticized in years past”

What the fuck do you mean? how can you measure someone’s recovery from drugs by their lyrics in rap songs. This isn’t an essay on how they live their life, it’s rap. Entertainment, amusement.

what made eminem so great was that he went against the grain and didn’t give a fuck what people thought. Now you want him to rap about church and mowing the lawn? get outta here man

I personally think this album is probs 3 1/2 stars, eminems voice gets really annoying (his voice wasn’t annoying until recovery) but royce fucking kills it. Beats are ok, tend to agree with some of the hooks being average.

Lyrically they murder it

Ldub
June 16, 2011 at 3:00 am

i was not the biggest fan of relapse or recovery, i mean recovery’s production was weak and lyrics were good, and it was just an ok album, but i cannot believe this review…im a fan of hiphop, have lived thru the 90’s listening to big pun, big L, canibus, biggie, pac, nas, rakim, nwa, wutang, and so on…and to say this EP is subpar, is ridiculous…ive never heard this kind of rap before, its different, but the lyrics are nasty, and the flow is unreal…the opening welcome to hell is sheer genius, fast lane is a great single, the reunion brings back a little bit of old shady, he has a decent radio hit song in lighters which is as lyrical of a mainstream hit song that you can find on radio, and everything else seems to be on point…its almost as if royce and em were battling each other in a way in each song here, and it brings so much energy into each song…and enough with this “pissed off” eminem old shit, mmlp was one of the best rap albums ever, and he showed his “pissed off” side in that album as well…he has substance to his albums and even the mainstream recovery had good substance to it and a message…this will be the best thing for rap this year, and all i can say is, watch out becuz em is going at it and slaughterhouse is comin up…otherwise, u may wanna reconsider listening to the EP again and do another review after listening to the geniuses eminem and royce da 5’9!

Stan
June 16, 2011 at 2:05 am

Winston, mate, you obviously have a pretty shit life, and I thought I’d stoop to the level of rebutting every point in your review, but then I realized you’re probably as thick as a whale omelet and none of it would get through that thick skull of yours.

I found myself shaking my head throughout the review. It’s a great EP, deserving of at least 4 stars. You don’t even mention more than half the tracks! I guess some people’s opinions really are worse than others.

Ray
June 16, 2011 at 4:27 am

Such a substantial comment there, Stan. “Whale omelet”, huh? Wow. That might just be the most moronic, dimwitted thing I’ve ever read. Congratulations, dumbass.

Professor C
June 16, 2011 at 4:50 am

Haha, this guy’s name would be Stan.

Tammy
June 16, 2011 at 12:55 am

Illiteracy ??? Oh Pls shut up !!!! “Eminem’s silliness can be tolerated, but only to a point, which he far exceeds here” ?? What do you mean ? You are a real jerk !

Professor C
June 16, 2011 at 4:51 am

Ouch, Tammy. Cut me deep. And what do YOU mean “what do you mean”? I couldn’t have stated that any more clearly.

O2ule
June 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I’ve been behind em since my name is debut in fact since I just don’t give a F**k was released. I grew up with his songs.
its hard because em was amazin oh his debut, heard nothin like it. got better on MMLP and excelled on Eminem Show, 
slid downhill on encore, bounced back on relapse and did a 180 on recovery the man had to change his style otherwise he would of just got plain borin if eminem show wasnt the way it was with its serious tone. and another crazy album like SSLP over and over again, he wouldn’t be here now.
so I applaude his new tone and material

and as for HEll: the sequel 
all i can say is not bad for an  experimental album

Bunit
June 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Pretty awful article to be honest. The album certainly lacked a certain amount of focus and continuity, but it has far more than the dross I’ve just read. By the way, the Mike Epps sampled track is in no way a ‘direct re-visitation of Relapse'; if it can be related to any of Eminem’s previous work its fairly obviously the Slim Shady LP or the Marshall Mathers LP.

Also, Royce and Eminem have not ‘maintained a personal and professional relationship’ since the 90s – they quite publicly fell out over a perceived Royce diss directed towards D12 in ’02-’03.

As far as the review of the album as a whole is concerned you seem to have completely ignored looking at most of the tracks, you could quite easily have made most of your observations when the first few tracks leaked a couple of weeks ago. I would say its pretty harsh to say that the hooks are ‘absurd and silly’, aside from the quite grating ‘I’m On Everything’, there are excellent ones for ‘Above the Law’ and ‘Take from Me’ that in no way fit your description.

Finally, it is pretty insulting to Royce for you to say that he is ‘not bringing everything he’s got’ and saying that he messed around. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that he has and to keep up with Eminem is no mean feat, which he has done and even on occasion surpassed Mathers’ efforts.

It would be nice if you did a bit of research and put more than minimal effort into what you write next time. Hopefully you’ll not come out with something that any mug could have written.  

Dan
June 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Eminem hasn’t put out a decent album since the Eminem Show.  Yes, his lyrics are always top notch as far as rhymes go, but his hooks are old.  His “angry” attitude is old.  It was good when I was in high school, cruising around with friends, but now that I’m 26 and have broadened my musical knowledge, I’ve realized he is simple and immature.  Yeah, tracks like ”Kill You” were unique back in the day, but come on, you’re getting close to 40.  Grow up.  He just sounds like a whiny bitch on every track.  Anyone who thinks Relapse and Recovery were good albums is the moron, not this reviewer

Cyn
June 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm

You are a moron yourself. What do you mean by simple and immature ??? Oh, you are one of those stupid Gaga fans ranting all over the internet b/c of one line of wordplay…Sad. btw, you claim to be 26, gosh, so immature and childish yourself !

Dan
June 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Haha, you guys crack me up…Gaga all the way baby!  Fuck no, I don’t listen to that dribble. I’m not a fan of one genre of music.  I listen to everything (besides country) as long as I respect what the artist is trying to do or say. People like Lady Gaga just decide to be a “freak” to gain attention b/c their music and personality wasn’t good enough. That, I don’t respect.  I would rather play coffee houses the rest of my life than write music lyrics that I don’t care about. Anyways, I guarantee all these people commenting are only fans of hip-hop and not music, or art itself. If all you want to hear are critics praising Eminem, then what is the point of a review. As soon as you heard one negative thing, you’re all like “How absurd? How dare this guys write a negative review of such a good lyricist?”  Artists need negative criticism to better themselves.  If every review is positive, that would mean that the album is perfect, and then where’s the room for growth.  Just cause you write an album called recovery and talk about getting past your problems doesn’t make you mature.  He has been putting out the same songs for 15 years now, only he used to have a bigger influence from Dre, and thus, better beats.  Most artists reinvent themselves, he’s hasn’t.  He’s a one trick pony. 

ham
June 15, 2011 at 4:03 pm

How can you say that, do you even listen to the songs? He matured so much, i agree that relapse weren’t that good, but recovery?? dude come on…..

Anon
July 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm

You contradict yourself.  First you say Eminem used to be good (“Eminem hasn’t put out a decent album since the Eminem Show…Yeah, tracks like ”Kill You” were unique back in the day”), then you say Eminem was never good in the first place (“It was good when I was in high school, cruising around with friends, but
now that I’m 26 and have broadened my musical knowledge, I’ve realized
he is simple and immature.”).

Looks like you’ve got some maturing to do.

Anionix54
August 17, 2011 at 10:55 pm

mate your the one who sounds immature!! recovery is nothing like those old albums, hes serious in that album, the common theme in it being change and pain. hes grown up in that album, he even appoligizes for the album relapse, but he had just come out of treatment, and at that point u are gonna make sum fucked up raps. recovery is amazing and is very inspirational, i dont know how u can even compare recovery to his old stuff. it sounds like u have grown from a normal teenage boy into a winny 26 year old, who probably also complains about bus pass prices. i think eminem is amazing, i did like the album relapse but no where nr as much as i love recovery. so dan

Nboy
June 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm

You talk a lot of shit. The first four paragraphs are a waste of time. You telling stuff that People might know, and if they don’t there is a magical informative Website called Wikipedia. “Weak minded Production”? Are you insane. Ha it’s funny when you say ”Royce da 5’ 9” suffers”, how the hell does he suffer and how he make mistakes? Royce’s underground stuff is great about you can’t afford to make mistakes. For a Major Label Album Royce has done brillantly. Don’t talk about Artists can’t afford to make mistakes when Lil Wayne and Drake are on Major Labels in the first place.

What really annoys is when you say it’s “not a lot of effort”. You are telling that through the whole Album, the lyricism wasn’t great. They are the perfect collabaration able to work in the Studio fine. They matched the Hardcore/ Horrorcore Album perfectly.

Professor C
June 16, 2011 at 4:53 am

Good God. This guy. This. Illiteracy. Ruining Eminem’s fans for me.

Tammy
June 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Am 100% sure you are the critic( Winston Robbins) who reviewed this album…Lol, you created an account defend your stupidity.

its woodsy
June 15, 2011 at 3:05 pm

the reviewer is an idiot and has no clue what Bad Meets Evil is all about

Worldwidedistribution1979
June 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Go fuck yourself.. U wouldnt know a banger if it knocked you out cold.. Thanks for wasting 5 minutes of my life.

Bad vs evil is king.. Read this review.. Still king.

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