"Let's take it back to straight hip hop and start it from scratch"
At Daily Swarm, A Rational Conversation's Eric Ducker chats with Spin's Charles Aaron about Eminem's retro-rap flashback to vintage Def Jam with new single "Berserk" - a "Rick Rubin-produced cut" that pays "homage to the type of jams that Rubin was making in the mid-1980s with the likes of Run-DMC and LL Cool J." The video and the song are verily a citation fest --giant boombox nodding to "I Can't Live Without My Radio", microsample of Ill -era Beasties ("kick it"), a hint of 86-87 "get a little stupid"-izm with "question is are you bozos smart enough to feel stupid?", references to Kangols, "vinyls" and Public Enemy. Not forgetting the riffage, via Billy Squier.
Aaron: "It was a surprise to hear another sample of the “The Stroke” in 2013! I mean, the first thing I honestly thought of, in terms of Rick Rubin producing (or “reducing”) Eminem was that it was a repeat of Jay Z and “99 Problems” – another Billy Squier extravaganza. I love the energy... but I feel like the music could’ve gone in more interesting directions if they wanted to nod to the 1985-1986 era Rubin/Def Jam sound."
Another 21st Century Squier-stravaganza was Dizzee's "Fix Up Look Sharp" from ten years (TEN YEARS!) ago, i.e. shortly before "99 Problems".
Aaron, again: "As a man of a certain age, it reminds me of LL Cool J’s Radio, which they’re nodding to in the video with the giant boombox. For others, it’s the Beasties, and for others, it’s “99 Problems.” Regardless, that sound has made a gargantuan footprint as far as crossover rap is concerned – it’s the sound Russell Rush and Def Jam dreamed would turn hip-hop into the new rock & roll for America and white kids (which actually happened beyond Russell’s wildest, drug-induced imaginings). So, unless Eminem acknowledges all that in a more, I don’t know, meta or self-aware away with, say, the lyrics, then it’s just kind of a halfway look."