The Singles Party: Eminem, ‘Berzerk’

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Can you believe it’s been 14 years since the release of The Marshall Mathers LP? Now, nearly a decade and a half later Slim Shady himself is bringing the world the sequel – The Marshall Mathers LP 2. The first single to drop from this November release is “Berzerk” a track the Singles Party crew is going to dissect right before your very eyes.

Nick Porcaro: Eminem’s recording career is deader than whatever’s left of Miley Cyrus’ shock value. This song is a catastrophe. There’s nothing more to say. Verdict: One and Done.

Kelly Spoer: I don’t know what I was expecting when I heard this song. It certainly wasn’t this wall of noise. It’s not the Eminem you’d come to expect. There’s very few places in the song that feature his voice; you can hardly hear him over all the production. He’s not spitting clever rhymes this time (well, the Kardashian thing was amusing), instead, he’s boring. With all the noise and samples this song has, there’s nothing new here. The chorus is catchy at least. Or maybe I like it because I like screaming expletives while singing. I’m disappointed. It seems like he’s trying too hard to stay relevant. Verdict: One and Done.

Jason Stives: Eminem has definitely done his share of maturing and growing as an artist since the days of the Real Slim Shady. Devoid of gimmicky lead singles the work he presented on Recovery a few years ago gave him a greater scope that syncs well with the current trends of music. That being said his latest single “Berzerk” is absolutely lazy and dull. The lead single from the forthcoming The Marshall Mathers LP 2 relies too heavily on its need to sample and is incredibly scatterbrained in tone and intent. I won’t write off what may follow this latest release because it’s just one single but it is by no means a home run for me. Sure, it will most likely find a way to get some chart value and it has the means to grab a certain audience but this listener isn’t having any of this lack of originality. Verdict: One and Done

Matt Agosta: Finally the greatest of all time has returned. I knew the new album was coming this fall for a while but I almost shit my pants when I saw it was going to be the sequel to his most classic album. Eminem is one of those few artist that when he comes back from a long break, the album never sounds like the album before and with “Berzerk” it looks like we are going to get the same result. This track is definitely unlike anything Em has done before and that gets me really excited. Of course Eminem bodies the track, but that’s always a given for him. What I love most about “Berzerk” is that it is really hip-hop, not a pop song accompanied by Rihanna or Bruno Mars. The track will most definitely get you hype, and I really love those scratches after the second verse. The hook is powerful, the sample is awesome and Marshall really brings it to life. The one thing I could complain about in this track is the beat has a little bit too much going on and less could have been more for this Rick Rubin produced beat, but it doesn’t bother me too much. Either way, I love the song a lot and I’m even more excited than I was before for The Marshall Mather LP 2. Verdict: Add to Playlist

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Jason Kundrath: So apparently, the passage of time has not had a mellowing effect on the legendary Eminem. “Berserk” – Em’s first single since his 2010 album Recovery – finds him living up to its title: guns blazing, spitting fire, and seemingly determined to remind us that he remains the most manic rapper in the game. But does it work?

Early in the track, he announces his intention to “take it down to straight hip-hop and start it from scratch.” And while it does feature some old-school touchtones – the classic drum pads, the record scratching, and a sample of the Beastie Boys – it all sounds like a hot mess upon first listen. This effect, however, is less about the production and more about the jarring experience of Eminem truly going “haam” out of the gate after three years of silence. Upon further inspection, “Berserk” is a pretty meticulous attempt to grab the brass ring. Besides being built around Billy Squire’s “The Stroke” – which is a massive hook in itself – Eminem packs the track with many catchy hooks of his own. The chorus is a anthemic, melodic thing that he shouts/sings/raps, featuring his own profane twist on carpe diem: “I say fuck it /
before we kick the bucket!”
It’s kinda like a message to his 38-year-old peers, written in his trademarked junior high school prose. Hmmm… Can Eminem age gracefully? “Berserk” seems to serve as a defiant “NO!” to that question. With that all said, his return is still intriguing, if not immediately satisfying. It deserves more than a single listen (maybe four, but no more), but it’s not going on my playlist. Verdict: One and done.

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Bill Bodkin: Eminem’s “Berzerk” would be an awesome single…if Eminem’s vocals were erased from it. Using Billy Squirer’s “The Stroke” as its hook, mixing it up with some wild beats and some red hot scratching effects, “Berzerk” is amazing. I’d rock this track everyday of my life if I could; it’d be the music I’d use to enter a room. Alas, this is not an instrumental and it’s actually an Eminem single. Flat out, the lyrics and vocals on “Berzerk” suck. Lyrically, “Berzerk” is a Scary Movie version of hip-hop … making fun of anything and everything you can in the world of pop culture, but without any real humor, fun or bite to it. He knocks the Kardashians? Dude, Jay Leno is making jokes about them…that should tell you something. It’s as if though he couldn’t think of anything new and original to say and went back to the well that rocketed him to superstardom in the late 90s. Sadly, that well is dry and should be boarded up. Vocally, this is Em’s worst outing switching between sing-songy rhyming and manic screaming. It’s actually annoying to listen to. Eminem has had a brilliant career and his singles are usually bulletproof (for the most part), but this one is just riddled with holes. Verdict: One and Done.

Final Verdict: While our resident hip-hop head Matt Agosta loves him some Slim, the rest of the crew is telling you stay far, far away. Don’t worry though, this song will be EVERYWHERE on the radio before you know it.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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