How nice that Eminem is following up a record called Recovery with a record about making amends. Bad Meets Evil is his collaboration with once-estranged Detroit homey Royce da 5’9″. The duo released a handful of singles in the late Nineties and shared a track on The Slim Shady LP, but standard intra-rap squabbles tore them asunder until shared grief over the death of D12 rapper and local hero MC Proof got them talking again. Their belated coming-out party gets over on an emotion you don’t often see in hip-hop: equanimity. “Two different entities with a propensity to put these n-u-t-s up inside of your fuckin’ mouth,” they rap. Not exactly Simon and Garfunkel in Central Park but radiating its own fucked-up sweetness nonetheless.
Getting in touch with his Shady-era roots has Eminem rockin’ it like a young buck: “By now you just wish I’d fucking die, but I electrify/Get electrocuted, executed by an executioner of my flow too quick for the human eye to detect zooming by,” he spits on “Loud Noises.” What emerges is a psycho-rap cutting session over elastic, no-nonsense beats (mainly from D12 producer Mr. Porter). Royce isn’t just there for window dressing, either; on “Fast Lane,” he raps about pulling a cop out of his uniform and hanging him by the balls off the horn of a unicorn.
All the evil meeting badness can get pretty ugly – counting the number of females who get mistreated on Hell: The Sequel is like counting foreclosure signs along 8 Mile. But there’s genuine humanity, too: On “Lighters,” Royce notes that he’s getting his career back in line in order to help his postal-worker dad retire early, as Bruno Mars brings the soul-ballad hook. “I went from having my city locked up/To getting treated like Kwame Kilpatrick/And now I’m fantastic,” he raps. Shady, you’ve done a small good thing.
Listen to “Fast Lane”: