Guess who’s back? Back again, Shady’s back however; this time it’s not entirely worth telling a friend. Celebrating 15 years of Shady Records Eminem has decided to release a two disc compilation album featuring one CD of new material from current members plus another CD consisting of the labels greatest hits from past and current members. Originally created as an outlet for Eminem’s Detroit based group D12, Shady Records has gone on to become a respected label in the hip hop world with 15 of its 22 albums released earning RIAA certifications of platinum or higher. Over the last 15 years Shady Records has been home to some incredible artists and kicked off the careers of some now big names such as 50 Cent and Obie Trice. Today the label plays host to the likes of Slaughterhouse, D12, Yelawolf and Bad Meets Evil (duo consisting of Eminem & Royce Da 5’9″).
So enough with the history lesson lets get to what we all came here for which is Shady XV the latest offering from Eminem and his label Shady Records. As mentioned earlier disc one features all new material from current members of Shady Records and opens with the albums title track Shady XV performed by Eminem. This is the first of five new solo Eminem tracks on disc one and its probably one of his better ones. The track samples a riff from My Kinda Lover by Billy Squier, this isn’t the first time Eminem has sampled the 80’s rock star, last year he used a sample from The Stroke for his single Berzerk. Shady XV is a decent opener to the album that sees Eminem spit straight bars for the whole five minutes not stopping for a single second.
Psychopath Killer is a dark, hard hitting track that features Royce Da 5’9″ and Crooked I of Slaughterhouse along with Eminem and Yelawolf on the hook. Royce stands out on this track with his smooth flow as does Crooked I and Yelawolf does a surprisingly good job on the hook. Eminem takes the third verse and whilst his lyrics are dope at times it almost sounds as if he is trying to put together to many words which ends sounding slightly awkward. I’m not a huge fan of Eminem’s producing of late and Die Alone doesn’t really help to change my mind however; his flow is more polished and controlled but I don’t think that will stop the older Eminem fans from pressing skip.
I think its safe to say that Royce brings out the best in Em and this is evident in their Bad Meets Evil track Vegas. Both rappers bring their A-game for this verbal onslaught although Royce threatens to steal the limelight not just on this one but throughout the whole album. Surprisingly the best track on disc one doesn’t come from Eminem but rather from his colleagues Slaughterhouse with their track Y’all Ready Know. The track is produced by the legendary DJ Premier and features that 90’s boom bap style with a sample based beat (you can’t go wrong with Premo on production duties). All members bring the heat with their raw flows that combine perfectly with one of the best beats of the year.
Guts Over Fear goes back to that Recovery sound which new fans will love, the track features Australian Singer Sia on the hook whilst Em talks about always talking about the same things ‘And I’m frozen, cause there’s no more emotion for me to pull from, just a bunch of playful songs that I make for fun, So to the break of dawn, here I go recycling the same old song’. D12 make their return with a new track titled Bane but unfortunately it fails to make an impression which is upsetting as I was hoping for something better. The only other song really worth talking about is the feature heavy Detroit vs Everybody. Appearing on the track are Detroit’s finest including Royce, Big Sean, Danny Brown, Dej Loaf and Eminem with Statik Selektah on the beat. Everyone has a solid performance on this one apart from Danny Brown, his verse is weak if you can actually understand what he is saying and it just doesn’t fit in with the quality brought by the others.
As mentioned before disc two features the best of Shady Records over the last 15 years bringing us classics from the likes of 50 Cent, Obie Trice, D12, Slaughterhouse and Yelawolf. Most fans will already have majority of these tracks however; it feels good to go back and reminisce on amazing tracks such as 50 Cent’s I Get Money, Obie Trice’s Wanna Know, D12’s Purple Pills and a whole lot more. Also featuring on disc two is a demo version of Eminem’s Grammy award winning song Lose Yourself, it’s hard to imagine that one of Em’s biggest songs could have sounded completely different, it’s definitely worth a listen.
It’s hard for me to say this as Eminem is my favourite artist of all time but unfortunately apart from a few songs the rest of this album will just collect dust at the bottom of my CD rack. Newer fans of Em will more than likely fall in love with the album however; the Stan’s who grew up on tracks like Guilty Conscience, Role Model, Drug Ballad and Kill You (I could go on all day) will be disappointed. That being said I still believe he is the greatest rapper of all time and will always look forward to hearing what he comes up with next.