On January 17th, Marshall Mathers — aka Eminem — quietly released his 10th major-label album, entitled Music to Be Murdered By. The title and cover image are a nod to Alfred Hitchcock’s eponymous work from 1958, and the “Alfred” interlude and outro are the famed director’s orated introduction and closing from his own album. But Eminem didn’t use the theme to make a concept album. Instead, with production by Dr. Dre, Tay Keith, and D.A. Doman, among others, the 64-minute album has Eminem performing a balancing act that invokes his crude alter ego — Slim Shady — with rabid foolishness. It has him rapping alongside younger artists such as Juice WRLD (in his first posthumous musical appearance) and Young M.A, all while still trying to provoke nostalgia by emulating his D12-era self and sharing the scene with established rappers like Black Thought and Royce Da 5’9”. Unfortunately, for a body of work that takes its title from the so-called “King of Suspense,” the album leaves the listener largely unmoved.
Climate disasters, endless Middle Eastern conflicts, nationalist uprisings, xenophobia, and government surveillance. Most societies today are combatting at least one of these predicaments. The increased speed at which information travels has made people aware of problems that should not be persisting in a progressive social order. Aside from being a unifier of sorts and an aid to the consolidation of voices, mass communication may have contributed to widespread cynicism, making us distrustful of the principles and norms around us.
It’s all so caricaturable. A big, orange-toned president, acting on the advice of his stumpy, loud New York lawyer, barters over the phone with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, offering military aid in exchange for dirt on his political opponent Joe Biden, whose son sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. The move gets figured out and the walls around the president start to close in. President Trump is now facing an impeachment probe for this quid pro quo, and his chances of survival are looking thinner as the process advances.
As Canadians made their way to the voting booths on October 21, polls around the country had the Liberals and the Conservatives neck and neck to lead with a minority government. The tension showed that the stark divisions in Western democracies have not evaded our Great White North, with topics like wealth disparity, climate policy, and immigration dominating parties’ policies.