Clad in a green parka, black beanie and shades, the grey-bearded Rubin — who’s also co-executive producer of Em’s upcoming The Marshall Mathers LP 2 — played DJ and served up the sample of Billy Squier’s “The Stroke” on his turntables. On cue, the Detroit spitter emerged, stalking the Studio 8H stage like an “I Need a Beat”-era LL Cool J to perform his hit single “Berzerk.”
After ending the second line of the first verse with a backward B-Boy stance, the black curtain dropped to reveal a six-piece band in full rock mode, spurring the blond rapper further into the song’s nostalgic barrage of verbal middle fingers.
Making sure to punctuate each syllable with a turn of his hand, the “Rap God” bounded from side to side to the rap/metal beat, periodically aiming his microphone toward the studio audience for a call-and-response of the track’s riotous hook.
Although Em’s hilarious deadpan silence during two “SNL” promo clips with host Kerry Washington seemed to foreshadow his possible involvement in one of the show’s skits, the “8 Mile” star left the acting to the cast. (One of the highlights of the live broadcast included Washington’s humorous turn as Jay Pharoah’s jealous, text message-checking girlfriend in a parody music video.)
Eminem did return later in the show, though, to deliver MMLP2‘s anthemic “Survival,” which was originally released as part of the soundtrack to the forthcoming video game “Call of Duty: Ghosts.” Joined this time by singer Skylar Grey, Slim Shady dove into the bombastic lyrics of the hard-hitting track.
Carrying over the combat theme of the multiplayer video game, the Shady Records CEO wore a snow-camouflage jacket and used a camo net as a backdrop to his band, which played the DJ Khalil-produced electric guitar riffs like they wanted to incite a mosh pit onstage. Not wanting to feel left out, Eminem proceeded to play air guitar to close out his set.
If that wasn’t enough for you Eminem Stans — don’t fret: For an encore, the “Monster” MC will make another appearance on your screens Sunday night (November 3) as an Artist of the Year nominee and performer at the inaugural YouTube Awards. MMLP2 is set for release on November 5.