Eminem & Various Artists - Shady XV

by Ed Cannon

This is the dream team of rap albums, the greatest hits album to end all greatest hits albums and to quote the man himself: “Consider it his last hurrah”. When Eminem first walked on stage in August at his final stop of The Monster Tour with Rihanna at Detroit, wearing a T-shirt branded ‘Shady XV’, few, including myself, could have imagined the repercussions of such an event. The suspicions were confirmed later by a video titled SHADY CXVPHER, premiered on VEVO on November 10 2014 to promote the album. The video featured Slaughterhouse and Yelawolf; this in itself could have set the rap world aflame, with artists freestyle rapping in various locations.

It has been released on Shady Records’ fifteenth anniversary and will be the fifteenth release on the label (excluding Eminem’s solo releases), hence the name. The two-disc knockout experience is incomparable to, possibly even in a whole new league to, Eminem’s previous collaboration project, Eminem Presents the Re-Up. Shady XV features Shady Records’ best selling artists such as D12, 50 Cent, Yelawolf, and Obie Trice.

Disc One contains new releases including the single track, Guts Over Fear, heavily reminiscent of The Monster, featuring Rihanna, a song which encourages confidence in the face of adversity. This is perhaps the song to summarise both this album, a brave attempt to showcase rap as a genre, and Eminem as an artist, a man who created an empire from a trailer park. This is the most commercial song of the album, however Twisted provides a mellow interlude to the harsh spitting of Detroit’s underworld; definitely worth a listen and a possible future chart contender. A nice surprise is Till It’s Gone by Yelawolf, where the usual harsh spitfire delivery is substituted by slower enunciated lyrics and singing. Another must-listen is Detroit VS Everybody; as the title suggests, this is a showcase of lesser-known artists, such as Trick Trick and Def Loaf.

Disc Two is the best of the best, the most popular songs from various artists which have stood the test of time. In Da Club was produced over ten years ago but I would bet my student loan that most people would recognise the intro: “Go, go, go, go, go, go, Go Shawty, it’s your birthday / We gon’ party like it’s your birthday”. As well as the variety of artists there is a clear variety of tone, with classic jokey D12 track, My Band, being heavily contrasted to Yelawolf’s Pop The Trunk, a song about evading the police. Among these classics hides a diamond, Eminem’s demo version to his best known song, Lose Yourself, with a whole new set of lyrics to the beat of the original song. If you have seen 8 Mile or even enjoy the original song I cannot advise you to listen to this song more strongly.

Controversy has already descended upon the album in classic Eminem style. In Vegas, Eminem has been accused of threatening artist, Iggy Azalea, with rape, adding to the record of controversy and conflict that surrounds Eminem like a storm cloud. The debate on whether this will be his last album is flying around but even though I hope strongly that it won’t be, this would be a fitting record to end his prestigious career on. Shady XV is a memento to a career that spanned 15 years, over which more than 155 million albums and singles were sold - even an Oscar was won. This is an album for die hard rap fans, but also a great starter album for those interested in the genre and Eminem as an artist.