On the surface, “The Monster” seems like a felicitous title for yet another collaboration from Rihanna and Eminem; a match made in hip-hop hell that we first encountered three summers ago.
“Love The Way You Lie,” the second single from Em’s tepid Recovery, was the bane of my 21-year-old existence in 2010, and the one discernible stain on an otherwise great summer for hip-hop.
In layman’s terms, that song made me want to hurt myself, and objects around me — specifically the power button on my car stereo. I can recall my daily ritual of nearly jamming through the plastic on my console with my index finger in a heat-exhausted rage, fighting the first piano-accompanied chords from Rihanna on every FM radio station, seven times an hour, for three months straight.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Flash forward to the present, and Eminem is still force-feeding his crossover singles down our throats in exchange for a hefty paycheck and acceptance from suburban teenage Philistines. The funny part is, this time I really don’t mind it.
Perhaps my own stamp of approval for this song comes from the fact that it sounds more like Eminem featured on a Rihanna single than the converse. When you analyze the track through that lens, it’s not half-bad.
You have Rihanna harmonizing over an up-tempo guitar instrumental, “You’re trying to save me, stop holding your breath/And you think I’m crazy, yeah, you think I’m crazy” (both these statements sound pretty accurate) which sounds like something that will, in the words of Rick Ross, moze DEF-initely, be featured on a promo for the NBA On TNT.
Meanwhile, Eminem spits three highly-satisfactory verses in which he laments over the paradoxical price of fame, and his inner psycho. We probably could have done without the annoying yodel in verse two, but hey, when in Detroit.
Let’s not get this twisted: Em needs to go away. But if he’s going to stick around, he could do a lot worse for a Top 40 radio single than “The Monster.” In fact, he already has.