Emimem’s new single is produced by Rick Rubin and Dr. Dre, but the sound is all Rubin. Rubin made his name in hip-hop by mashing up ideas that appeared to be contradictions: The smart and the stupid, the sound of hip-hop and the sound of rock. And it’s at the intersection of all those ideas that we find “Berzerk,” which Eminem teased during the VMAs and released at midnight last night.
Em says at the top that he’s going to “take it back to straight hip-hop and start it from scratch,” but the sound isn’t old-school hip-hop—it’s smart-stupid rap rock, reminiscent of the early Beastie Boys. The beat is even built on a prominent sample of ’80s rocker Billy Squier (“The Stroke”), who happens to be the man behind one of the dumbest videos of all time.
For his verses, Eminem takes a similarly Rubinesque approach, vacillating between technically impressive rhymes and, on the other hand, a second verse that is almost entirely gibberish. Even the hook, about a house party (“We’re gonna rock this house until we knock it down/ So turn the volume loud, ’cause it’s mayhem till the A.M.”), would be right at home over the video for “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!),” to which Slim and Rubin also nod.
It’s a perfect pairing. As Eminem puts it at the end of second verse: “Question is: Are you bozos smart enough to feel stupid?”
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