“Homicide” is simple: Two self-righteous rappers walk into a room and, somehow, get more self-righteous. For Mountain Dew mafia circles and cream-colored cul-de-sacs Logic and Eminem‘s first collaboration is an event. It’s also an amplification of the two patron saints of perceived persecution’s worst, though arguably most lucrative, tendencies.
On one side, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II spits anxiety raps about why no one thinks he’s cool, why he’s an “innovator” and why AutoTune is lame. On the other side, Marshall Mathers nonsensically complains about rappers not writing their raps and being the air duct/vampire of rap. In the middle, Logic and Em commiserate. They know how to save hip-hop, damnit, if only the teens would listen. As a song, it’s a failure of imagination.
Logic and Eminem devote their four-minute screed to the extremely original idea that they will rain down various acts of violence upon the rest of the rap game. Within three verses there are at least 30 mentions of a desire to kill, planning to kill and then doing the actual killing — all directed at an unknown set of musicians. Words like, “kill, attack, snap, smacked, sizzle, hitters and triggers” are thrown around, interspersed with irony-free phrases about “Bustin’ like an addict with a semi-automatic.”
“Homicide” is so devoid of self-awareness that Logic and Eminem’s markers of quality — double-time flows, abundance of punchlines and “intricate” rhyme schemes — end up sounding worse than the rap music they’re critiquing. At one point, Logic sings through AutoTune, “I got bitches, I got hoes, I got rare designer clothes / No, we ain’t fuckin’ with that,” before letting listeners know there is a “time and a place” for those lyrics. It’s offensive on two levels. First, Logic has built his career on repurposing and recycling styles (Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West) to the point it’s hard to fathom why he thinks he’s creatively above anyone. Second, no matter how much Logic claims he’s an “innovator,” he’s yet to popularize a flow (Migos) or a vocal performance (Future) as well as the people he’s ostensibly mocking. Logic, no matter how successful, is simply a synthesist who is great at spouting respectability politics at the masses over derivative beats.
Eminem is still the same crotchety relic that haunted Revival and Kamikaze. His verses remain full of empty threats and senseless rhyming for the sake of rhyming (“Big bills like a platypus / A caterpillar’s comin’ to get the cannabis”). For some reason, Em is still complaining about rappers who don’t write their raps, but it’s difficult to ascertain why. During “Homicide’s” ironic peak, Eminem complains that he’s “Makin’ dog sounds ’cause I gotta keep breakin’ these bars down.” Symbolically, the reference rings true. Eminem’s bark has lost all meaning, the bite absent for years. There is a sense that if you let him, his growl will grow eternal with the help of musicians like Logic.
The bite Eminem’s been warning us about never comes, because it was never there. “Homicide” isn’t that scary when the people who were meant to be killed keep surviving.