Eminem and Jeezy are two different artists that come from two different schools of thought.
Jeezy has never been accused of being super-lyrical while Eminem has never even pretended to have been involved in street life.
Both somehow have found a measure of success in the fans that live by both codes.
They are also rappers living at the crossroads of their respective careers. As a new group of teens file in most of them support artists such as Lil Uzi Vert.
The question becomes ‘how can either artist stay relevant?’
Jeezy has the upper hand being a southern trap ambassador because the sound he helped create is still pumping blood at a rapid rate.
It has evolved somewhat but Jeezy is the streets version of boom-bap staples The Roots.
His work is consistent yet riddled with enough change to stay fresh. Jeezy is as dependable as a good strong cup of coffee.
His latest single “All There” (Def Jam) features the late, great Bankroll Fresh who gets the spotlight that he deserves as the two trade verbiage within each verse.
Like some of the infamous verses that featured both Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, “All There” seethes with venom as each artist jumps over each other’s words like prizefighters.
Musically, there’s enough 808 action to keep the youth on deck without bowing down to them. At this point, Jeezy knows he’s a general in this army of rap that is still in touch with the new recruits.
“All There” proves he can still be himself and be relevant.
Not so much. “Campaign Speech” (Aftermath) is a good idea that was executed very, very poorly. Clocking in a 7:49 and with no connection to a musical soul of any sort, the track is merely moment after punishing moment of punch lines.
The point is that by using little-to-no sonic support the focus will be on the verbiage. That could have been a serious moment for hip-hop if he spit flames that were hotter than what had ever been seen before.
But he really did not and some of the more extreme elements of this tedious rap now sound like a middle-aged man reciting sentences for shock value.
The problem with taking such an extreme risk is that it must come from such an inspired place that it requires that it be delivered in such a fashion.
“Campaign Speech” only connects here and there. When a listener is asked to devote nearly eight minutes of their life to a moving concept that is clearly not a song it has to be fucking perfect.
“Campaign Speech” would be sweet to be able to reference at a battle rap. At least in that environment, there is the adrenaline that comes from the oohs and ooooos of an opponent getting bodied.
That platform was not chosen and so we are left with this.
Verbally, Eminem is the greatest lyrical heavyweight of all-time. But if he is going to avoid Larry Holmes status, he needs to counter-punch with an amazing song before another attempt at something this silly is made.