Sounds like Shady’s back...in the day.
Eminem dropped his new single “Berzerk” on Tuesday, an old-school flavored rap-rock hybrid that strongly recalls the Beastie Boys and, fittingly, was produced by Rick Rubin. The single was released just days after Eminem announced the title and release date of his new album via two short commercials that aired during the VMAs.
Along with “Survival,” “Berzerk” is the second song released from “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” due out Nov. 5. A video posted to YouTube for the new song opens with a shot of a cassette tape being dropped into an old-school boombox, an appropriate image for the back-in-the-day sounding track. Amid a battery of 808s and chopped guitars lifted from Billy Squire’s “The Stroke,” Eminem jumps hard on the beat, promising to “take it back to straight hip-hop and start it from scratch.” Lyrically, the song marks a return to the playful, punchline-spitting Eminem of his early career, a welcome return after the more introspective themes of his last two albums (not to mention the reheated leftovers of the underwhelming “Survival”). Sure, a couple of the pop culture references are clunky (a K-Fed reference in 2013?), but for this writer’s money, funny Eminem beats tortured Eminem every day of the week.
However, it’s Rick Rubin’s production that puts “Berzerk” over the top. Given Eminem’s affinity for crunchy, guitar-oriented beats and Rubin’s hip-hop and rock pedigree, it’s surprising these two haven’t worked together before. The chemistry here feels organic and with the VMA spots listing Rubin as an executive producer on the album (along with longtime cohort Dr. Dre), it will be interesting to see what else he cooks up for Eminem.
More than anything, it’s just nice to hear Eminem sounding like he’s having fun again after his very public battle with drugs and addiction. Now that he’s made it through “Recovery,” Eminem might finally be ready to make us all laugh again.