Eminem is a tragic case in contemporary rap. Once one of our more talented lyricists, he's but a shell of his former self. His latest song "Phenomenal" encompasses all of his recent shortcomings — it's heavy on verbal acrobatics, light on actual meaning and dominated by a bland pop beat.
The "new" Eminem: Eminem exchanged the urgency of the verses that made him famous for technical pizzaz and shock factor lyrics long ago. So we shouldn't exactly be surprised that his latest song sounds like an even less interesting rehash of "Rap God."
"Look what I have built!" he spits. "Reputation is delegation / The only thing I'm capable of makin' is amazing." His new penchant for empty self-aggrandizement leaves him no better than every other amateur rapper in the field. The only difference is he used to stand for something a bit more serious.
The saddest part is Eminem seems intent on taking his whole label down with him. His recent Shady XV, which was meant to showcase his label's talent, was filled with dull beats and cheesy ominousness, kind of like "Phenomenal." It was widely panned. And now, according to M Live, Eminem is going to produce the upcoming album from Slaughterhouse, the Shady-signed supergroup including Joe Budden, Royce Da 5'9", Crooked I and Joel Ortiz. Based on his track record of late, it's likely to be a disaster.
With any luck, "Phenomenal" is Eminem bottoming out and he'll soon return to the more incisive and challenging raps on which he built that name. Until then, on "Phenomenal," he's anything but.