Starting off in a five-minute lyrical whirlwind over a classic rock Billy Squier sample, (prompting "Berzerk" déjà vu) Eminem attempts to harness everything that led to his original infamy. But although undoubtedly dripping in unattainable lyricism, the provocative content is seemingly worn and the concepts tired. The usual misogynistic bars, Skylar Grey-like hooks, familiar cadence and five-minute double-time verses that we've heard from Eminem and Slaughterhouse for years follow each other throughout the first half of the project. It's satisfying enough — it's Shady after all — but something just feels different. Tracks like "Die Alone" are anticlimactic, as the song comes up short next to the previous Eminem and Kobe collaboration, "Talkin' 2 Myself," from Eminem's Recovery, which stood as an album highlight.
The Just Blaze-, Boi-1da- and the Maven Boys-produced single is a highlight, a collaborative win for Slaughterhouse, Eminem and Yelawolf as they flex their individual flows and unrelenting lyrical abilities in the comfort of auditory murkiness.
Disc two features hits like 50 Cent's "In Da Club" and "P.I.M.P.," Eminem's "Lose Yourself" and D12's "Purple Pills," all of which have cemented Shady's legacy and demonstrate that Marshall Mathers is one of the greatest technical rappers to ever do it. Still, there's no denying that the new cuts on Shady XV are lacking the innovation, creativity and hunger that the legacy was built on. They come across as somewhat tired and dated and, ironically, Em seems to say it best himself on the Sia-featuring single "Guts Over Fear," when he raps, "Sometimes I feel like all I ever do is find different ways to word the same old song."
For the Shady diehard fans, Shady XV is enough. But for those searching for that nostalgic surge of adrenaline-inducing passion and innovative content reminiscent of the Shady reign, it's better to skip the new material and head straight to the classics. (Shady/Interscope)