Shady Records is celebrating fifteen years in the music industry with Shady XV, a double-disc album that features previously released hits from the past on one disc (which I won’t cover here), and new music from the current Shady roster on the other disc. This is almost like Tech N9ne’s Strangeulation album covered earlier in the countdown, except Shady’s roster is a lot smaller, so each artist generally gets more shine. The Shady roster also has a different skill set, with more of a focus on wordplay than flows. With Eminem obviously having the spotlight for most of this album, he is joined by other Shady Records artists including Slaughterhouse, Yelawolf, D12, and Skylar Grey.
With Shady Records releasing an almost 20-minute cypher shortly before the album, Shady XV starts right where the cypher left off, as Eminem raps for five minutes straight on the first song. The intensity continues as Royce Da 5’9″, Kxng Crooked and Eminem lay a lyrical beatdown on “Psychopath Killer” before Em taps into his emotions on the Kobe-assisted “Die Alone”, a typical break-up song. Bad Meets Evil then makes a return, as Eminem flips that switch he mentioned on “Welcome 2 Hell” and dives into his Evil character for “Vegas”. The lead singles “Y’all Ready Know” and “Guts Over Fear” appear next before Yelawolf highjacks the scene on “Down”. After a surprisingly dope D12 track, Eminem spends the next few songs alternating between his serious, emotional side and his no-f***s-given, braggadocios side. After the epic “Detroit Vs. Everybody”, Yelawolf ends the album with a relatable track, “Til It’s Gone”.
Eminem obviously shines the most here, as he shows a few of the different sides to his character throughout the album. He gets introspective, reflecting on his career at times, and also just spazzes out with his lyrical acrobatics on other songs. Royce Da 5’9″ and Yelawolf also stand out on this album, as Royce holds his own ground next to Eminem and/or Slaughterhouse multiple times, and Yelawolf has a couple dope solo tracks. I thought D12 was going to sound corny, but they actually shook the rust off and held it down on “Bane”. I also enjoyed “Detroit Vs. Everybody”, as Big Sean really stepped up and didn’t ruin the track like I thought he would. Besides Skylar Grey sounding out of place and Joell Ortiz & Joe Budden only appearing on one track, this is a dope collection of songs with a little something for every type of hip-hop fan.
My Grade: B+
Remember to check back here tomorrow to see which album came in at #9 on the countdown!