Friday, May 15, 2009

Eminem vs Mos Def

So, I heard Eminem's new album for the first time the other day. It was like meeting up with the coolest kid from school, 10 years after graduation, and realising he'd never grown up: Still making dick jokes, still obsessed with slasher movies, and still angry at his mum. Even Dr Dre's beats sound stale and tired.

Eminem's problem is that he never got over the perception of himself as the rebel, the class clown, the good time party guy. Hell, he still insists on using his childhood nickname(s).

But here's the bad news, Marshall: The rest of us have moved on.

The shame is that, on Relapse's more reflective moments, there are hints that Mr Mathers has the potential to say something interesting about aging and confronting his demons - if only he had an emotional setting other than "angry young man".

"What's a beer?" he asks on Deja Vu. "That's a devil in my ear. I been sober a fucking year. And that fucker still talks to me, he's all I can fucking hear." From the man who had the insight to write Stan, this is a waste of breath. The suggestion that he still hasn't really come to terms with sobriety is only reinforced by the album's shopping list of pharmaceutical product names - Nyquil, Valium, Vicodin, Hydrocodone.

Anyway, I've got a bit carried away here. The reason I wanted to mention Relapse's mediocre retread of former glories was to contrast it to Mos Def's brilliant new single, Casa Bey.

Like recent releases by Common and Q-Tip, it harks back to the more melodic, jazz-tinged, Daisy Age era of hip-hop. The Sesame Street-esque video, which sees the "soul shockin, never stoppin, always keep the beat rockin" lyrics tumbling out of Def's mouth, is absolutely worth five minutes of your time.

Mos Def - "Casa Bey"

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