If Eminem was looking to get his old stroke back on his upcoming eight solo album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, he’s right on target with the album’s first single, “Berzerk.”
Joining the likes of Jay Z and Kayne West in tapping old school hip-hop legend Rick Rubin to produce his music, Slim Shady employed the Buddha of Beats to give the song, which dropped Monday night, his signature mix of booming beats and classic rock samples.
“Now this s—’s about to kick off, this party looks wack/Let’s take it back to straight hip-hop and start it from scratch/I’m ’bout to bloody this track up, everybody get back/ That’s why my pen needs a pad cause my rhymes on the raaag/Just like I did with addiction I’m ’bout to kick it,” rhymes Em over a spare, rock and roll beat enhanced by a sample of the “kick it” hook from the Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right (To Party).”
The song also samples Billy Squier’s 1981 hit “The Stroke,” which makes total sense given the Rubin connection. The former Def Jam co-founder helped Run-DMC and the Beasties blow their careers up with songs that melded rap and hard rock and “Bezerk” unquestionably has the feel of one of Rubin’s 1980s classics. And, after a more somber mood on his post-rehab Relapse and Recovery albums, “Berzerk” brings Em right back to the fun-filled, loose and playful vibe of such early efforts as the original Marshall Mathers LP from 2000.
Even the placeholder video for it takes you back, as it features a brief glimpse of Slim Shady’s tattooed arm reaching into frame and popping a cassette of the song into a giant boombox.
In typical Em fashion, there are also some bricks tossed at tabloid figures (Britney Spears’ ex, Kevin Federline, the Kardashians and troubled NBA star Lamar Odom) and props offered to his rap brethren, including Kendrick Lamar, Birdman, Dre’s old N.W.A. buddy MC Ren and Public Enemy.
On the hyped-up bridge, Em sings, “Take your shoes off, let your hair down and go berzerk all night long/Grow your beard out, just weird out and go berzerk all night long.”
The rapper shocked everyone on Sunday night when he announced the release date (November 5) and title of the new album in a pair of commercials that aired during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. During the brief Beats by Dre commercial, Shady announced the release date and title of the new album, as well as the fact that was executive produced by Rubin and longtime mentor Dr. Dre.
It’s the second piece of new music we’ve heard from Shady this month, coming on the heels of the more aggressive “Survival,” which debuted in the trailer for the “Call of Duty: Ghosts” game.