If you haven’t heard by now, Shady Records’ current team roster Eminem, Slaughterhouse, and Yelawolf have put together a twenty minute freestyle video in acknowledgment of fifteen years as a controversial record label. The collection amply titled Shady XV. Moreover, the promotional video exemplifies all the nuts and bolts of the hubristic emcee.
Even though these infamous individuals, as a group, already have a couple of notable rap improvisations gracing their resume, there’s something more grandiose about this new one. That is, of course, if you can get past the shock value offered by these six men who are on a steroid high. Only then can the craftsmanship be appreciated—the cadence, the articulation, the energy, and the coordination needed to make this come together like one big extravaganza.
For starters, there is no instrumental accompaniment: it is all a cappella. Eminem and company come at the audience straight from their larynx. As a result, the stripping away of background sound gives room for each rapper to show off their killer bars; albeit, the artists stay true to their enfant terrible personas.
What’s more, unlike a traditional cipher, the six members are stationed in separate geographical locations. Crooked I—now known as Kxng Crooked—is inside of a garage in Long Beach, California while Joe Budden stands on the walkway of the George Washington Bridge. A decrepit Alabama shack is the backdrop for Yelawolf and Joell Ortiz leans over a pier overlooking the East River and Brooklyn Bridge. The only two participants together are Eminem and Royce Da 5’9″, who both stand underneath a decaying church dome in bankrupt Detroit.
In all fairness, the public’s feathers are being ruffled by the lyrics. And if you are willing to decipher this magnum opus you might be disturbed as well. But if you are disturbed, you probably aren’t familiar with what these guys are capable of spitting.
The opener, performed by Kxng Crooked, sets the tone of the braggadocious music messiah who uses his words as weapons to warn the impending death of the cop who killed Michael Brown. What follows is Joe Budden playing a tragedian role as he laments about ill-timed events that are keeping him from the boastful mood. Nevertheless, Yelawolf continues with the same exaggerated pride—the house he has built for himself packed with stuff, but there’s an undercurrent of emptiness that he fills with drugs and alcohol. Rapper Joell Ortiz zeros in on the brotherhood of rapping while Royce Da 5’ 9” blows his own anti-social horn.
However, the most scandalous is the finale where Eminem does his best display of misogyny. As the most rotten apple in the bunch, he lives up to his reputation as a super villain. Eminem raps about wanting to sodomize lesbians, murder children, promote abuse on women, just to name a few of the thoughts he harbors in his sadistic mind. But he reminds us that he is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. That dark sublime place Eminem managed to draw us into has astonished. And what do we do? We are either sickened by his words or continue to listen.