It was in 1999 when the world first witnessed when ‘Bad’ met ‘Evil’. Detroit’s finest rappers and long-term friends Eminem and Royce Da 5’9″ collaborated on the former’s Slim Shady LP, where both of their sick-to-def styles crossed paths making for a fine outing. But throughout the years, disagreements, personal tragedy and label drama contributed to the distancing of the pair. But after Royce and Em patched things up and became labelmates again (via Shady’s partnership with Royce’s Slaughterhouse collective) the Motor City’s meanest deliverers join forces once again, with the intention of causing an uproar within the realms of Hip Hop’s finest duos.
A grand opening get things started as ‘Welcome To Hell’ offers almost everything which the ultimate Em and Royce fan could ask for – both men tearing ferociously into a haunting Havoc production. Not even the heavy beat on-hand can out muscle the lyrical weight which carries the first track. Much like the momentum of the intro, ‘Fast Lane’ carries forth the same intensity as its imposing production is punctuated by the inspired verses of the troublesome duo.
With various ‘guises’ of the Caucasian rapper emerging over some years, what is most satisfying is that it’s the take-no-prisoners-assassin Mathers which appears and somewhat steals the limelight from Royce’s vicious barbs (although ‘The Reunion’ still has traces of the somewhat forgettable material from Relapse).
Whilst Royce’s solo projects have provided enough to show that he’s one of the nicest, performances in Hell: The Sequel will ultimately catapult him into the legion of lyrical juggernauts in the current period.
‘Above The Law’ sees 5’9″ maniacally race through bars of fury, knocking out stinging barbs referencing Kanye West, boxer Ricky Hatton and many more. Rapper-come-Producer Mr Porter handles most of the score, which proves to be adequate for the duo, whilst Bangladesh, and Eminem make up the rest of the production credits.
For all of the crazy metaphors and metafives which turn the temperature up on HTS, what the EP seems be lacking is a coherence – or themes -within songs. As frenzied and adrenaline pumping the material may induce, tracks seem to be simply an arena for the rappers to flex their lyrical muscles rather than crafting their wordplay in fine tuned songs, which is by all means great but will deter those looking for something polished.
Also for a project which is powered by the art of rhyming, the Bruno Mars featured ‘Lighters’ sounds inappropriate on such an EP and somewhat distorts the momentum gained. But with a strong finish, Bad Meets Evil hook up with the Slaughterhouse posse on the grandiose ‘Loud Noises’ where every emcee grabs the double time baton and sprints to victory.
If the question still looms over where the real emcees are in the present day, the answer lies here. A true schooling on rhyming in 2011, Eminem and Royce Da 5’9″ make up for lost time and produce a fine project, which serves as a warning shot to anyone claiming king of the current breed of emcees. Requiring several listens to digest the fullness of verses, Bad Meets Evil take turns pounding the instrumental punching bags, leaving severe dents in each they touch.
Far away from any Eminem ‘album’ this channels the spirit of the days of Outsidaz, early D12 and even Shady’s Rawkus dealings and Royce’s one man demolition of tracks are immense. A success on nearly all accounts, Shady Records is proving to be the ‘Fight Club’ of the Hip Hop arena – where anyone within the camp has to be able to heat up a microphone, Slim Shady, Royce Da 5’9″ and the other protagonists making up the fearsome team could very well drag the lost art of emceeing back into of the centre of Hip Hop.