Years apart haven’t done much to throw off Eminem and Royce Da 5’9″‘s chemistry. Hell: The Sequel, the follow up promised on Slim Shady and Nickle Nine’s standout collaboration, “Bad Meets Evil” 12 years ago—finds the two Motor City rhyme animals seamlessly taking turns showing off their lyrical dexterity as if it was an oversized diamond-encrusted piece.
The EP picks up where the duo’s last collaboration left off on the Havoc-produced “Welcome to Hell.” Slim takes center stage first, with lines like, “To find someone so raw on a beat is rare/You can kiss my ass and the shit stains on my underwear that I don’t even wear.” Perhaps no song better encapsulates Bad Meets Evil more than “Fast Lane”—the EP’s first single. Royce sets the tone with merciless bars, spitting, “Slap up a cop and then snatch him out of his uniform/Leave him with socks, hard bottoms and bloomers on/And hang him by his balls from the horn of a unicorn.”
As is usually the case with Em and Royce, pop culture figures, including dead people and former collaborators, aren’t exempt from jabs for the sake of a dope rhyme. Slim mocks David Carradine’s death and reveals to Nicki Minaj that he wants to stick his “penis” in her anus on the aforementioned, “Welcome to Hell” and “Fast Lane,” respectively. Meanwhile, Nickle Nine rhymes, “You got a mouth like Kanye, I’ll knock your whole bottom row of teeth out/No disrespect to Mr. West, shit I’m just nice with mine/And this just wrap ‘em, I’m like Ricky Hatton, I just like the line.”
The duo takes a break from straight spitting on “I’m on Everything” featuring Mike Epps—a comical track that name checks every drug and liquor brand imaginable, which is peculiar considering that Em has now been sober for several years. The Bruno Mars-assisted “Lighters”—an inspirational track that is sure to surf the airwaves throughout the summer—is another break from the typical vicious lyrical assault. The EP suffers from substandard tracks at times, but everything takes a back seat next to the duo’s lyrical ferocity, that goes for other MCs and stellar production. Throughout the 11-track record, Em and Royce deliver exactly what their fans have been waiting for for a decade plus: lyrics to go. —Carl Chery