Bad Meets Evil - Hell: The Sequel
Record Label: Shady Records / Interscope Records
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Bad Meets Evil have taken an interesting path leading up to the release of their latest album. You would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't recognize the name Eminem, but Royce da 5' 9” is, unfortunately, a totally different matter. These Detroit born rappers collaborated early in their careers, most notably on the eponymous track from Eminem's major label debut The Slim Shady LP, but Royce's falling out with Dr. Dre and his later beef with the other members of Eminem's group D12 would put a hold on the two artists releasing more music together until earlier this year. With the signing of Royce's group Slaughterhouse to Shady Records, the time seemed perfect for the two friends to finally combine their talents on a full album.
While technically an EP, Hell: The Sequel still carries an air of importance. We're immediately introduced to the dynamic differences between Eminem and Royce on the opening track “Welcome 2 Hell,” and they play off each other appropriately. Both artists display competence as they weave in and out of verses, Eminem's signature lyrical frenzy serving as a perfect counter to Royce's own intense yet reserved writing style. The opener directly segues into the album's first single “Fast Lane,” a fun track that doesn't take itself too seriously. Eminem and Royce riff over the decent production, bouncing from the former propositioning Nicki Minaj for anal sex and having a go at himself with a Vanilla Ice reference to the latter describing his tight flow in equally vulgar terms. Both rappers showcase their flow in impressive ways, changing tempo to match equally energetic wordplay with poise that's typical of the artists' careers.
Unfortunately, not every track can be a winner. The lowlights of Hell: The Sequel can be found mostly in two tracks, both underwhelming for various reasons. “The Reunion” is an overly aggressive track detailing the pair's dealings with women. While the lyrical content is surprising at first, it's nothing new when compared to Eminem's earlier releases. It's slow, atmospheric, and features Eminem singing on the hook, pieces that aren't necessarily bad things on other tracks but come together here in an extremely awkward fashion. On an album full of interesting throwbacks to the artists' earlier work, “The Reunion” is just bland and forgettable. “Lighters” shows up later on the album, bringing with it an uninspired feature from Bruno Mars. It's apparent this is the duo's attempt at a radio friendly track, but aside from a few introspective lines, the track doesn't carry much weight.
But apart from those two missteps, Hell: The Sequel is solid. Other notable tracks include “A Kiss” and “I'm On Everything.” The first plays Eminem's signature issues with women against the loneliness that comes with those same issues. Bangaladesh's production is moody and light, and he uses a few unoriginal beats admirably to create a somber backdrop for the darker lyrics. The second uses a piece of comedian Mike Epps' stand up routine as the hook, an already catchy diatribe on the prevalence of drug use in youth culture that functions well on a track about the very same thing. While the subject matter is anything but original, the track is catchy enough production-wise that that blends into the background as the track winds down to its conclusion.
Hell: The Sequel closes with a track featuring the latest Shady Records acquisition, Royce's own group Slaughterhouse. Group tracks have the unfortunate distinction of being lopsided in most instances, and “Loud Noises” suffers from a bit of that. Eminem and Royce completely outshine the other members of Slaughterhouse without much effort, though the features are to be commended with the decent verses they bring to the table. D12 alumni Mr. Porter provides menacing production to back the group's rapacious lyricism, full of horns and strings that add a surprising level of atmosphere to an altogether basic track. I'm still not sure how I feel about this song in a singular sense, but it proves to be a strong closer for the album.
With a few more tracks, Hell: The Sequel would have been a fantastic record. But as an EP, a few of its faults are hard to hide. The production is less than impressive throughout the album, but it serves as a decent foundation for the compelling lyricism Eminem and Royce bring to the table. Now that the pair have followed up on their promise from 1998, I'm excited to see future collaborations. Let's just hope it doesn't take another decade.
Disagree w/ Em and Royce completely and easily outshining the rest on Loud Noises. Budden had the most impressive verse on that track imo.
Agreed. I really think all of Slaughterhouse outshined Eminem on that song.
I liked this EP a lot. After hearing "Fast Lane" I knew it would be masturbatory technical rap and they pulled it off well. "Lighters" has an awful hook but the verses are still great, it's just hard to listen to thanks to Bruno Mars. Tyler, can you take care of this already?
it'd be way cooler if they did an album fleshing out the story that the original Bad Meets Evil track laid down but as I've come to expect from a post y2k Em, he dropped the ball.
I mean it's not a bad ep, if you take it for what it is (how many good hip hop ep's can you name?), but it really could be so so much better if some actual thought had been put into it. Really kinda seems like they just recorded whatever, threw it at the wall, and these couple tracks are the only stuff that stuck at all.