Bad Meets Evil, 'Hell: The Sequel': The EW Review of Eminem's latest project


Below, find an expanded version of the review out this Friday in EW’s print edition:

Recovery saw Eminem finding the more dynamic moments hidden between his blasts of bluster. Sure, there was still an awful lot of shouting, but even full-throated rage-athons like “Cold Wind Blows” allowed a lot more Marshall Mathers to show off his full skill set while Slim Shady was catching his breath. It was a revelation that lead to the best work of his career.

Hell: The Sequel, his release under the moniker Bad Meets Evil (a tag-team with friend-turned-foe-turned-friend-again Royce Da 5’9″), finds Em returning to mostly eye-popping intensity. That doesn’t necessarily make Hell: The Sequel a step backwards—Em remains the finest battle rapper on the planet and proves that he’s the Michael Jordan of MCs (in the sense that he turns Royce from a perfectly acceptable spitter into a lyrical beast, especially on the hard-hitting single “Fast Lane”).

The pair spew acid-tongued battle raps that shout down celebrities (Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber join the hit list) with obsessive conviction, and though they spend most of their time boasting about their greatness, they manage to do it with enough invention to keep it fresh; the brevity of the EP keeps it from overstaying its welcome.

They even leave room for two breaks in the action: The first comes in the form of the Bruno Mars-produced pop nugget “Lighters,” which makes the rest of the EP’s dark leanings all the more fulfilling, while the second drops in on the album-closing “Loud Noises,” allowing Shady Records signees Slaughterhouse do most of the driving and spins the bombast in a more sideways direction).

Unlike some previous Eminem releases, there are no greater statements embedded in Hell: The Sequel, but it does serve to remind the world that Eminem remains one of the best rappers alive. As Jay-Z once said, sometimes the world needs a reminder. B+

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Review: Eminem, Recovery

Comments (134 total) Add your comment
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  • JPX

    Eminem’s shtick is getting old. We get it, Eminem, you’re full of rage despite all your success and fortune. At this point all of Eminem’s music sounds exactly the same; rage and insults towards other successful people.

    • Yeah

      That pretty much sums it up. I’m not real sure how this album is any different than any of his other albums.

      • Matthew

        Well, he’s sounding amazing. His flow is is magnetic and better than ever; his punchlines are way better than the ones on Recovery; Production is way better than Recovery; His voice is sounding the best it has since his comeback; Royce Da 5 9 is a fantastic lyricist that keeps up with Em throughout. Dont comment on something you know nothing about, I dont go comment on Lady Gaga’s CD’s.

      • steven

        I’m just going to say it. The Wallywallywallywallywallywally world song for free on youtube kicks this songs butt. I’m only 9.

      • jordan

        Its not an “album” idiot. Your just proving your ignorance right now. Your the kind of fool that has only heard eminem’s singles and not his actual whole content of music

      • Ak

        THANK U MATTHEW. Finally someone who knows what theyre talking about!

      • u-ah-dud

        Then dont buy it. Why the “F” did you even bother reading the artical. d-bag

      • jioph

        >>>Happily Divorced — Tonight @10:30/9:30 Only on TV LAND<<<

      • bill jones

        yall can both shut up.. bet this hits the top

      • matthew

        your right its similar to his other albums but only because there all lyricaly great

    • b

      We get it MJ, you have a nice jump shot and stick your tongue out. We get it nas, black people are oppressed still, we get it gaga you like the gays and weird things.

      When you spit into 2 decades youre bound to rehash things. Eminem has changed his flow, he spits into a range of things. Slim Shady LP was about making it. Being poor and slowly improving his status. It was also hardcore rap in a mainstream world.

      MMLP is his just dont give an F attitude to its fullest. Lashing out at the media blasting video games and rap music for things like columbine, his crazy fans, etc.

      The Eminem Show- The War in Iraq, 911, beefs w cannabis and dre w dupree, his fans and how he will keep killing it for them


      Relapse- a really interesting theme album about murder and drugs, just a dark eery album that appeals to a niche group, but is an interesting case study into the mind of a psychopath

      Recovery- Rebirth, the underdog story, coming back from addiction, domestic abuse…nothing like his other albums.

      • Juice

        Nice, but don’t forget Infinite

      • Matthew

        He’s got some amazing songs between albums too, “No Apologies”, “Lady”, “Stimulate”, songs off the 8 Mile sound track like “8 Mile Road”, “Rabbit Run” , and some of the most destructive disses in hip-hop history like “Nail In The Coffin” and “The Sauce” . I challenge any haters to play even one of those songs and get back to us about Em’s music.

      • Vince from NYC

        While I agree Encore is probably his worst Album it definatley isn’t a skip. There are still some pretty good tracks on there. It is out there, definatley strange, but give it another listen. It’s not all that bad. The best songs were played out by the time the album came out and the rest is kind of filler. Never Enough, Yellow Brick Road, Toy Soldiers and Mosh are all quality tracks. Puke is a good song, My 1st single is lyrically insane. The middle gets a little whacky, but the back 5 are pretty good songs with some good cameos.

      • Matthew

        Oh yeah ^, that reminds me, tracks like “We As Americans” and “Bully” and “Love You More” were meant to be on Encore but they leaked early. It would have been a far better CD if they were on it, and a track like “Ricky Ticky Toc” replacing the weaker Encore tracks.

      • Vince from NYC

        Agreed.. Bully was rediculous! Still one of my favorite Em tracks. The way he kept the same rhyme scheme and flow the whole song was nuts. Never been done before or since.

      • Tom

        I’m so bored.

      • u-ah-dud

        100% on point with that

      • Dev

        Em is and always will be the greatest. He’s speaks the truth whether ppl want to hear it or not. He has rage but so what! I still have rage inside me. His lyrics are honest and pure. I don’t even like rap music and I love Eminem. He’s obviously doing something right!

    • ru

      lady gaga sings the same crap, just different words.
      they are never exactly the same anyway

    • me

      wow. u clearly arent a rap fan

      • jrock

        if your a true rap fan
        encore yellow brick road
        evi deeds
        spend some time
        and there some comic songs i like
        my point is rap music isn’t just club hits the best rap is when the words can make you relate

    • jrock

      the only bad thing i can say bout em
      is the media was and are right he did ruin the rap business because once he came in no other rapper can spit with him lyricly

  • ben

    He said Beaver. BEAVER! Learn to read! And @JPX, I doubt that Eminem has any personal problems with these people. So don’t comment on his music. By the way, quoting Jay-Z at the end, LAME!

    • B

      You realize Beaver means bieber in german.. right?

  • Matthew

    ^Sounds like you didnt hear the album biaatch. Yeah its brilliant. Top of iTunes for a whille yet! The Eminem legend keeps growing. Yes, he does have the most fans on Facebook and his Bonnaroo concert was a knockout.

    • Yeah

      So because he’s successful means that his music is good? Sounds like Justin B.

  • Matthew

    Was quoting that retard JPX. Standout tracks on the album: Welcome 2 Hell, Fast Lane, The Reunion, Above The Law. All vintage 9/10 Eminem tracks. Production is also better than Em usually spits on throughout.

    • JPX

      I stand by my comments. His music has sounded the same for a decade. He hasn’t evolved at all and his “anger” at this point is just silly. Sorry, Matthew, I listen to better music than this predictable tripe.

      • JPX

        Also, Eminem, it’s 2011, maybe it’s time for a new look? You’ve been sporting the hoods and the Nesmith hats for an awfully long time.

      • Matthew

        Each to his own mate ;)

      • Matthew

        Each to his own mate ;)
        Eminem continues to offer a full gambit of emotions to his adoring fans from humour, introspection, rage and lately, cutting wit (gotta love that Reunion track)

      • Juice

        What do yo listen to JPX?…Lil Wayne, the people of made Cat Daddy, or the people that made teach me how to dougie, what about souja boy, and those idiots that made teach me how to jerk

      • Ryan


        Name some current rappers that are better than Eminem. I’m not trying to be a dbag, but being serious. There is a HUGE deficit of good rap music out these days, most popular stuff is some BS.

        Eminem to me has ALWAYS mixed up his style. Listen to Slim Shady LP, then listen to Recovery his flows and lyrical ability is much better these days. The content has been varied enough and dealt with a large variety of stuff.

        I will always enjoy Eminem and for lyrical ability alone I think he is the best in the game right now.

      • Vince from NYC

        You couldn’t be more wrong. When was teh last time you listenedto him? Listen to one track from every album in order and hear the rpogression. And when I say track, listen to one of the good ones, not the first radio single.

      • Matthew

        Quality rappers besides the likes of Eminem, Nas (still in fantastic touch) and Tech 9 (arguably the best live rap performer) are all underground. Guys like Atmosphere and AOTP.

      • John

        Eminem is still riding on the coattails of whomever is hot at the moment, by insulting them? He is still pissed, even though he is never really lived the thug life, and now he is a rich, white rapper? And another thing….I love when Eminem stans defend his “skills” by saying “his voice is great”. LOL Unless I missed something, he is not a singer…

      • jordan

        JPX is a complete fool. Any eminem fan who is familiar with his music from 1995 to the present knows that his songs never sound the same

        This fool JPX is probably the kind of person who reads an eminem article once every 3 years and then thinks about “my name is” “way i am” “lose yourself” “real slim shady”……and proceeds to say he “knows” eminem’s music

        Yeah out of the hundreds of songs he has apparently JPX says he has been the same the whole decade.

        And i can guarentee he hasnt listened to one of his albums full through.

      • dan

        JPX are you serious eminem in no way has sounded the same for a decade. Begining of the decaded he used the high pitch high souding foolish voice. During relapse he uses the accents. Now he uses the more souting and serious sound. he really has 2 albums out where he uses the shouting.

      • Rex

        Haha, seriously JPX, when you say that his clothing is getting old with your reply, What do you expect him to wear, One-zees?

  • Yeah

    “All vintage 9/10 Eminem tracks. Production is also better than Em usually spits on throughout.” What does this even mean? Are you drunk? Speak clearly please.

    • Matthew

      It means he recaptures the glory from his godlike 1998-2003 form. And the production (beats) are better than the ones from his last CD. Get it?

    • HH

      It seems pretty clear what he means… The songs have good beats. The tracks themselves are very good. Got it?

  • Juice

    JPX needs to stop acting like he can do as well as Eminem in rapping. Also, making 7 studio albums and many more collaboration albums is sooooo easy that I just made my 10th album

  • muggle1992

    All right, let’s learn how to spell “led.”

    • Bob

      It’s rap. You don’t have to be grammatically correct. Just string a few words together and strike a pose and the audience will figure it out.

      • muggle1992

        I was commenting on the first paragraph of this review. You’d think someone would proofread these things; like, maybe, the author.

        Anyway, I love Eminem!

      • hiphoprelic

        Bob, the ignorance is glaring. please stop.

  • outside agitator

    a music review that never once mentions music. Eminem is called a lyrical beast but no lyrics are directly quoted to support the claim. as someone who’s not interested in raps about Gaga or Bieber, or the endless, profane bragging that’s made up every rap record of the past 25 years, I’m gonna have to pass.

  • DMellow77

    Dear Entertainment Weekly … Since your knowledge of hip-hop consists mostly of a weak knowledge of just rap, please stop doing people a disservice by reviewing non-pop/country/rock/R&B albums. Thank you.

    Also, maybe you should do some research on Royce Da 5’9″ and you’ll see Eminem did not turn him “from a perfectly acceptable spitter into a lyrical beast” as he always was one.

    • Matthew

      Oh, you’re so right. Royce has been an A-class emcee for ages.

    • Kel

      Thank you DMellow77…Royce has always been fire, without question. I haven’t listened to Em in awhile, but I plan to check out this album.

  • Bob

    Jeez, lighten up, ganstas!

  • McWrath

    Personally, I think Eminem has been, and always will be a lyrical genius. He makes art out of some of the coolest rhymes and the sickest metaphors I have ever heard. The music part of it is mainly the producer’s job(and when Eminem himself produces a song, it usually kicks ass). And while I like his older, “not so mainstream” music, his new flows are catchy and smart. He has put his entire life into his music. This new album isn’t the greatest of his work, but some of the songs on it are impressive. There will always be haters, but some piece of advice to those of you who choose to hate him, you should probably have some better reasons to hate him. We all like different music, but if you are listening to rap, some of the greatest and most heartfelt lyrics come from Eminem.

    • Bob

      “Heartfelt” is nice. But unfortunately, these messages that he feels so strongly show him to be a horrible, egotistical and violence inducing loon.

      • Matthew

        Relax. He doesnt bite heads off bats like Ozzy. By all accounts he’s a very nice, normal funny guy away from his alter ego of Slim Shady and his Eminem legacy.

      • Bob

        I am relaxed. Mostly because I don’t have to worry about projecting two personalities, the “very nice, normal” one and the totally fake “gangsta” one.

      • McWrath

        When I said “heartfelt” I just meant that his lyrics and the way he spits them can make peoples’ hearts feel his pain.

      • Bob

        If that is what you meant, then you used the wrong word. Try “touching” instead, as I think that will work out better for your intent. Eminem is a “touching” artist.

        (And for me, please stop with the ultra-cool “spit” lingo. I am a grown-up.)

      • McWrath

        Well I am sorry that I used “heartfelt” and “spits” instead of “touching” and “raps”. But for me and many others, his music IS heartfelt for us. We connect with his emotions strongly.

        And if you were such a grown up then you wouldn’t get upset about what people you don’t even know say on internet blogs.

      • Bob

        Upset? Where did you get the notion I am “upset” by any of this? No, I am merely distracted by it. Just because someone thinks your Emperor has no clothes, it doesn’t mean they are distraught.

        Okay, so now you’re saying he *is* heartfelt? Could you please pick one? Thanks.

      • McWrath

        You are an idiot.

      • Bob

        And now the truth comes out about who is really upset. Please, go enjoy your “musical” “hero” of “wordspit” who has made you into such an eloquent fellow. Nice choice of role model…

      • Dakota

        Well first off Bob, you shouldn’t tell someone to stop with the “lingo”. Maybe that is how they talk. Second off, if you were such a grown up then you wouldn’t be on here making a huge fuss out of this whole thing. I find it funny that people get so offensive about music. None of us here can rap like Eminem. He has talent. Leave it at that. I like the song “My Name Is” and “Lose Yourself”. Oh no! I must be a fake! It is music. Just because someone knows about all of the “underground” stuff an artist does in no way makes that persons music taste better. All you are doing trying to show off your “extensive” knowledge and critical ear for rap is making yourself look like a complete fool and over-pompous jerk. Man, you must have the ego of Eminem! In fact, what is bad about Andrew going to listen to Coldplay? They are a great band. Heck, he could listen to Eminem to. It is music. If someone finds it pleasing to the ears, then let it be…don’t turn it into some competition to be the “true fan”. Makes you sound desperate and confused in your own tastes. If you know you like rap, cool, go listen to rap or what you think is rap. I mean the time you guys spent on here trying to make yourselves seem like hardcore rap fans, you could have been off listening to some of that hardcore rap that you guys are such fans of instead of embarrassing yourselves on here. No one cares about your extensive know-it-all knowledge of what real rap is on comments on a web page. You don’t have to completely kick someone down because they love Eminem and find this new album to be good. I find it very catchy and fun to listen to. Shoot me…I must have terrible taste because I don’t agree with what you guys say, being self proclaimed huge rap fans and all. I also like Coldplay. :) Music is music. Grow up.

  • blake

    I haven’t heard this album yet, but I am hoping it is nothing like his crap albums recovery and relapse, both were terrible and were complete reversals of what made Eminem great. Bring back Slim Shady!

  • Aaron

    This album is AMAZING. Im sick of all the Shady haters. EMINEM is an ICON and the greatest rapper of ALL TIME whether you admit it or not. EM is as big as it gets. His skill level is on its own level. GREAT album.

    • Bob

      Well, you used ALL CAPS so it must be true…

      • Stating the obvious

        @Bob: You are a sad, small man to continue responding like this. What a lonely world you must live in, spending your time commenting over and over, all in an effort to please yourself and criticize others. Now, wipe your hands on your toilet tissue, pull up your pants, and come on up from the basement, dear. You may find real, positive interaction more rewarding. (And, yes, I do feel I can judge you. You and people like you have been posting since the beginning of the Net… you’re all the same person, just in different wrappers.)

      • Chris

        you must be a troll or something by coming around here and ripping and commenting on everything someone has to say just leave and stop making sarcastic comments and starting dumb ass arguments .

      • Bob

        Oh, Stating. You are so cute in your fascist ways… I will continue to come here and post my relevant and irrelevant comments. And you will have to read them. Because you love reading my comments. You can’t even stop reading this one. I own you, son.

        And Chris, let me introduce you to a think I like to call capitalization and punctuation! Give it a try so you don’t come off as unintelligent, like you just did.

      • Bob

        Now, where is that damn spellcheck… StatingTheOb, do you have mine? I lost it.

      • Mike

        look at this clown judging people and trying to diss them by the way they type on the internet. Get a life bob quit hating on people because they like something you don’t. You say the men (Eminem and Royce) dont have skills? Look up the lyrics to any of the faster songs on the EP and try to rap along with the song. Your tongue will get tied reading off the paper.

      • Manny

        (bob) love how you correct everyone, but what exactly is “let me introduce you to a think”??? good job.

  • McWrath

    You’re an idiot.

    • Bob

      At least I know how to reply to messages correctly.

      • Stating the obvious

        Oooooh! Burn! No wonder you don’t like Eminem; you’re wit puts him to shame. And… you’re right. I did read your last post. I had to do something while taking a dump. By the way, read the end of your last post, and introduce yourself to a “think” called proofreading. Sad little girl, thinking you own ANYONE. This is my second and last comment to you (as I DO have a life, and my trip to the toilet is done), but I’ll bet you’ll be replying to THIS one. You can’t resist; it’s the only thing that makes you feel good about yourself, Bobbarella.

  • Truth

    lol @ calling Royce a “perfectly acceptable spitter.” You might as well start your review by saying, “I don’t normally listen to rap…”

    Seriously, Royce has been one of the hottest independent rappers for five years. You’ve never heard Death Is Certain? The Bar Exam mixtape series? Street Hop? The laundry list of classic songs w/DJ Premier? Where have you been?

    On every rap website and message board, they’re talking about Royce put the life back in Eminem, and it’s impressive that Eminem kept up with Royce.

    On every pop culture website, that ignores 2/3 of rap albums released, the star-struck critics wax poetic about Eminem for 500 words, then toss in a half-assed, usually patently false sentence or two about Royce. In this case, he’s a “perfectly acceptable spitter” who Eminem turned into a “lyrical beast.” Wtf. Spoken like a true casual rap fan, whose iTunes is 90% rock, and knows nothing about Death Is Certain, The Bar Exam or Street Hop.

    You didn’t know who Royce was before EW assigned you the album review, so what did you do? Did you do your research, catch out Royce’s career highlights, see what the buzz was from rap fans? No. You decided that since you weren’t familiar with Royce da 5’9″, he must just be an “acceptable spitter.” Then when you listened to the album you realized he was dope, and said it was all because of Eminem. Did Eminem also make Death Is Certain one of the most acclaimed rap albums of 2005? Was Eminem responsible for the smash hit mixtape series The Bar Exam? Was Eminem responsible for the critically acclaimed “Street Hop,” produced by DJ Premier? Was Eminem responsible for the critically acclaimed Slaughterhouse debut album?

    Then you end your review with that quote from Jay-Z’s reminder – that really says it all. That THAT song sticks in your mind, and is your go-to reference. A forgettable, also-ran single like “Reminder,” from a mid-tier Jay-Z album. And you use to to solely praise Eminem.

    Go listen to Coldplay, Andrew. Rap doesn’t suit you

    • Bob

      I think Truth makes come good points, even though he was rather unnecessarily rough on Andrew (who should go listen to Coldplay).

      • David

        I don’t think I’d go as far as saying I was surprised that Em kept up with Royce. They complimented eachother very well back in ’99 and I didn’t expect to hear something much different now. Also, while Royce was busy being the hottest independent (Such a hipster term) rapper, Eminem was doing quite well managing not only what ended up being the most acclaimed rap career of all time (That’s based off statistics not opinion) but his own label. Royce being successful independently does not make him better or worse than Em. On another note, if these mixes were such “smash hits” how do you explain that they remained largely underground and were limited in popularity to Royce’s fanbase. I have heard them but most people I know have not. the fact is that Royce while an above average rapper never had a hook to separate hime from the pack. Please, stop being such a pretentious hipster. I would definitely say Royce has surpassed Em now but in terms of career Eminem makes Royce look irrelevent. Sorry but smash hit albums trump good mixtapes. (You can hardly label any of Royce’s stuff as smash hits just because you are a fan.) And one final note. this may be completely wrong but I bought Death is certain in 2004. I’m not sure if that is the year you meant as opposed to 2005

      • Manny

        Ha, im not arguing with you but if you were to listen to royce in lighters song, he says it himself he is 2nd best…so idk how you can say “surpassed eminem”…*sigh

    • christopher

      every eminem album since the eminem show have been mid-tier

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