Music to Be Murdered By

Music to Be Murdered By is the 11th studio album by American rapper Eminem, released on January 17, 2020, by Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope Records and Shady Records with no prior announcement, in a similar fashion to his previous album Kamikaze (2018).[8] The album was produced by Eminem and Dr. Dre, amongst other producers, and features collaborations with Black Thought, Q-Tip, Juice Wrld, Ed Sheeran, Young M.A, Skylar Grey, Don Toliver, Anderson .Paak, Royce da 5'9", Kxng Crooked and Joell Ortiz among others.[9]

Music to Be Murdered By
Eminem in a suit with a red background
Standard cover. The alternative cover features Eminem posing with a gun and axe pointed to his head.[1] The physical CD cover features Eminem, hatless, posing with his hands behind his back.[2]
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 17, 2020 (2020-01-17)
Genre
Length64:22
Label
Producer
Eminem chronology
Kamikaze
(2018)
Music to Be Murdered By
(2020)
Alternative cover art
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Singles from Music to Be Murdered By
  1. "Darkness"
    Released: January 17, 2020[5][6]
  2. "Godzilla"
    Released: January 31, 2020[7]

Alongside the album, Eminem also released a music video for "Darkness",[10] directed by James Larese.[11] Music to Be Murdered By debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, making Eminem the first artist to have ten consecutive albums debut at number one in the US and one of six artists to have released at least ten number-one albums.[12]

Music to Be Murdered By received mixed to positive reviews from music critics, with praise being directed towards Eminem's lyrical abilities and the improved production after Kamikaze, with criticism being directed towards the album's formulaic song structure and lack of innovation. Commercially, the album reached number one in 12 countries, becoming Eminem's 10th consecutive number-one album in the United States.

Background and recording

 
The 1958 album cover that inspired the covers to this release.

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The album's title and alternative cover art share the same concept as the 1958 Jeff Alexander album Alfred Hitchcock Presents Music to Be Murdered By, described by Chris Willman of Variety as "the one and only album Hitchcock ever released".[1] Eminem tweeted an image of the 1958 album cover featuring Hitchcock holding an axe and a gun to his head and stated that his album's alternative cover was "inspired by the master, Uncle Alfred!"[11] Audio of Hitchcock's voice from the 1958 album is sampled in the interludes "Alfred" and "Alfred (Outro)" and the beginning of the track "Little Engine".[1] Both the 1958 and 2020 albums end with Hitchcock stating, "If you haven’t been murdered, I can only say better luck next time. If you have been, goodnight, wherever you are."[1]

The album is dedicated to American rapper Juice Wrld,[13] who died from an accidental drug overdose on December 8, 2019,[14] and Eminem's former bodyguard CeeAaqil Allah Barnes who also died.[13] Juice Wrld's feature on the track "Godzilla" marked his first posthumous release.[15] Eminem's third verse on the track holds the record for the fastest verse on a charted rap song, rapping 10.65 syllables per second.[16] Eminem surpassed his own records held by his featured verse on Nicki Minaj's 2018 song "Majesty", where he rapped 10.3 syllables per second, and his 2013 single "Rap God", where he rapped 9.6 syllables per second.[16]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?5.8/10[17]
Metacritic64/100[18]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [19]
Clash7/10[20]
Consequence of SoundB−[21]
The Daily Telegraph     [22]
Entertainment WeeklyB[23]
HipHopDX3.8/5[24]
The Guardian     [25]
The Independent     [26]
NME     [4]
Pitchfork5.5/10[27]
Rolling Stone     [28]

Music to Be Murdered By received mixed to positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 64, based on 16 critic reviews.[18] The aggregator AnyDecentMusic? has the critical consensus of the album at a 5.8 out of 10.[17]

Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph gave the album a perfect five-stars, and stated, "Eminem's 11th album offers over an hour of the world's greatest rapper blasting away on all cylinders. It is the first great album of 2020, so lethally brilliant [that] it should be a crime".[22] Scott Glaysher of HipHopDX was also positive, and compared the album to Eminem's previous bodies of work, stating in his review that "Music To Be Murdered By is far from the star-studded, commercially sustainable album Recovery was, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. On this album, despite its handful of flaws, Em shows strong signs of adapting to the times through modern musical choices and smarter songwriting."[24] Consequence of Sound's Dan Weiss was generally positive, and, about the album's themes, he said that "If he's figuring out from scratch how to be a compelling artist again, Eminem's improved the caliber of his beats and guests, taking stands against the right day-to-day injustices, toning down the tasteless (with the exception of the already-infamous Ariana line, of course), and rapping with the manic precision of someone who just snorted a whole sandcastle of cocaine and Vyvanse. If only a single minute of it was as hilarious or bracing as Chris D'Elia's impression of him."[21] Similarly, Fred Thomas of AllMusic opined, "Music to Be Murdered By sees Eminem pulling himself out of Kamikaze's wreckage somewhat, though he still falls victim to moments of willful dumbness and a tedious self-obsession that's become par for the course. On the album's best tracks, there are still hints of the fire that made Eminem a rap legend."[19]

Entertainment Weekly's Christopher R. Weingarten was more lukewarm, stating that, "As a whole, Music to Be Murdered By is as hit-and-miss as anything Eminem has released this side of the millennium. But remove the skits, the relationship songs, the family songs, the morose gun control song, and the quirky Ed Sheeran club goof and you still have 36 solid minutes of the daffy, one-of-a-kind rap genius that keeps captivating true-school heads and longtime fans. Or, if you'd like, keep it all and you still have the most solid work he's done in a few years."[23] NME's Jordan Basset was mixed on the album's lyrical themes and stated, "He splits the difference on 'Music To Be Murdered By', indulging his immature ego (griping at bad reviews, stirring controversy for the sake of it) even as he offers salient social criticism and admits his missteps. He's ready to pass on hard-earned wisdom before running his mouth like he hasn't learned his own lessons. And he offers casual fans a hook or two before embarking on another lyrical work-out."[4] Paul A. Thompson of Pitchfork was also mixed, and summarized that the album "is not, strictly speaking, a good record—Eminem hasn't made one of those in a decade—but his latest boasts enough technical command and generates just enough arresting ideas to hold your attention."[27]

Roisin O'Connor of The Independent gave the album a negative review, and criticized the album by saying, "Eminem belittles the trauma of a then 26-year-old Ariana Grande for kicks on "Unaccommodating" by comparing himself to the Manchester Arena bomber. The sour taste of this track lingers well beyond the album's centrepiece, "Darkness", which is intended as a searing critique of America's toxic gun culture. Instead, his use of gunfire and explosion samples feels grossly exploitative."[26]

The song "Darkness", about the 2017 Las Vegas shooting and told from the point of view of the shooter Stephen Paddock alternating with Eminem's own, has garnered particular attention and critical acclaim.[29]

Commercial performance

In the United States, Music to Be Murdered By opened at number one on the Billboard 200 with 279,000 album-equivalent units, consisting of 117,000 traditional album sales, 217.6 million streams and 8,000 track equivalent albums. Eminem became the first artist to have ten consecutive albums debut at number one in the US and one of six artists to have released at least ten number-one albums.[12]

The album also entered atop UK Albums Chart with first week sales of 36,000 album equivalent units. It was also the top album in Australia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand.

Controversey

The lyrics of "Unaccomodating", in which Eminem referenced the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, drew significant criticism, with many critics finding the lyrics objectionable. The mayor of Manchester denounced the song's lyrics, describing them as "unnecessarily hurtful and deeply disrespectful." The lyrics also drew widespread criticism from victims' relatives and others involved in the attack.[30]

Track listing

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Premonition" (Intro)2:53
2."Unaccommodating" (featuring Young M.A)
  • Eminem
  • Tim Suby
3:36
3."You Gon' Learn" (featuring Royce da 5'9" and White Gold)
3:54
4."Alfred" (interlude)
  • Andre Brissett
  • Young
  • Parker
  • Alexander
  • Andre "Briss" Brissett
  • Parker
  • Dr. Dre
0:30
5."Those Kinda Nights" (featuring Ed Sheeran)2:57
6."In Too Deep"
  • Mathers
  • Suby
  • Resto
  • O. Chanin
  • Sylvester Jordan
  • Eminem
  • Suby
3:14
7."Godzilla" (featuring Juice Wrld)
3:30
8."Darkness"
  • Eminem
  • Resto
  • Royce da 5'9"
5:37
9."Leaving Heaven" (featuring Skylar Grey)
4:25
10."Yah Yah" (featuring Royce da 5'9", Black Thought, Q-Tip and Mr. Porter)
Mr. Porter4:46
11."Stepdad" (Intro)YoungDr. Dre0:15
12."Stepdad"
3:33
13."Marsh"
  • Mathers
  • Resto
  • Eminem
  • Resto
3:20
14."Never Love Again"2:57
15."Little Engine"
  • Mathers
  • Young
  • Parker
  • Erik Griggs
  • Alexander
  • Lawrence
  • Parker
  • Dr. Dre
  • Erik "Blu2th" Griggs
  • Lawrence
2:57
16."Lock It Up" (featuring Anderson .Paak)
  • Parker
  • Dem Jointz
  • Dr. Dre
  • Griggs
  • Lawrence
2:50
17."Farewell"
4:07
18."No Regrets" (featuring Don Toliver)
  • Eminem
  • D.A. Doman
3:20
19."I Will" (featuring Kxng Crooked, Royce da 5'9" and Joell Ortiz)
  • Eminem
  • Resto
5:02
20."Alfred" (Outro)
  • Brissett
  • Young
  • Parker
  • Alexander
  • Brissett
  • Parker
  • Dr. Dre
0:39
Total length:64:22

Personnel

Credits adapted from Tidal.[31]

Musicians

  • Nikki Grier – additional vocals (track 1)
  • Bizarre - additional vocals (track 5)
  • Sly Pyper – background vocals (track 6)

Charts

Chart (2020) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[32] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[33] 1
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[34] 1
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[35] 5
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[36] 1
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)[37] 1
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[38] 1
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[39] 1
Estonian Albums (Eesti Ekspress)[40] 1
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[41] 1
French Albums (SNEP)[42] 4
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[43] 2
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[44] 15
Irish Albums (OCC)[45] 1
Italian Albums (FIMI)[46] 4
Japan Hot Albums (Billboard Japan)[47] 42
Lithuanian Albums (AGATA)[48] 1
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[49] 1
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[50] 1
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[51] 5
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[52] 2
Scottish Albums (OCC)[53] 2
South Korean Albums (Gaon)[54] 52
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[55] 66
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[56] 2
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[57] 1
UK Albums (OCC)[58] 1
UK R&B Albums (OCC)[59] 1
US Billboard 200[60] 1
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[61] 1
US Rolling Stone Top 200[62] 1

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[63] Silver 60,000^

 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone

References

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  2. ^ "Emimem - Music To Be Murdered By - Amazon.com Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  3. ^ "Eminem's 'Music to be Murdered By': Album Review". January 18, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Bassett, Jordan (January 17, 2020). "Emimem: 'Music To Be Murdered By' review: shock rapper continues to grow old disgracefully". NME. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  5. ^ https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/8548302/eminem-darkness-music-video
  6. ^ https://www.vox.com/2020/1/17/21070502/eminem-darkness-new-album-music-to-be-murdered-by-las-vegas
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  8. ^ Eustice, Kyle (January 16, 2020). "Eminem Drops Another Surprise Album 'Music To Be Murdered By'". HipHopDX. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
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  63. ^ "British album certifications – Eminem – Music To Be Murdered By". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved February 7, 2020. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Music To Be Murdered By in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links