The creative partnership between Eminem and Dr. Dre is one of the most successful in the history of hip hop, both artistically and commercially, but considering the latter is busy raking in bazillions of dollars with his line of headphones and not finishing Detox (which is never coming out, btw), we don’t have any beef with Em collaborating with Rick Rubin for his new single, “Berzerk.” Before he became the Zen master of the recording industry, Rubin was, of course, the architect of the trademarked rap-meets-rock Def Jam sound of the ’80s, producing such seminal works as Run-DMC and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” and Licensed To Ill by the Beastie Boys. He and Eminem revisit this golden era on “Berzerk,” for which the Syndrome-directed video also goes decidedly retro.
The video opens up with a shot of a blue screen featuring flashing timecodes, which no doubt confuses millenials but is instantly recognizable to anyone who grew up in the VCR era. From there, Eminem and Rick Rubin stride towards a massive boombox, complete with a cassette deck (another thing for millenials to look up on Wikipedia), and the two proceed to wreak havoc for the next 4 minutes and 20 seconds (heh heh). Thankfully, Em refrains from dressing up as any of-the-moment celebs here, and instead revels in Rubin’s aggro breakbeats and guitar licks (courtesy of Billy Squier’s “The Stroke”), while Syndrome intersperses shots of riots, World Star Hip Hop style street fights, and a beanie-clad Em staring into a fisheye lens like the Beasties did in “So Whatcha Want.”
Oh, and did we mention that his fellow Detroit Rock City cohort Kid Rock shows up, too?
Old school hip hop fans will also recognize this visual shoutout:
Do you remember what that’s from?
Yep, you guessed it, LL Cool J’s “Going Back To Cali” from the Less Than Zero soundtrack (which Rick Rubin served as music supervisor for):
While the song “Berzerk” didn’t immediately grab us on first listen the way some of his other lead singles in the past have (“The Real Slim Shady,” “Not Afraid,” “Without Me”), this song definitely fits into the category of “grower.” It’s certainly a promising start for The Marshall Mathers LP 2, but will that album be able to live up to the success of its predecessor? We’ll have to wait until November to find out.