On Eminem, Rick Rubin, and MMLP2

David Drake, writing for Complex:

Eminem’s appeal, over the years, seems to have been hammered into a shape that is defined by his “skill,” the detailed, OCD focus on the perfection of his wordplay and intricacy. But there are reasons to suspect—or, at the very least, hope—that Rubin’s influence will be more than letting Eminem exercise his prodigal complexity over the ’80s hip-hop beats.

It’s easy to caricature Rubin, who is executive-producing Marshall Mathers LP 2, as a simplistic bearded rock-rap guru. But, as he explained in an interview with the Daily Beast shortly after Yeezus was released, he does more than lay on couches: “You’re so close to something when you write it that it’s hard to have any perspective on how it hits someone else. My job is to be a professional version of the outside world—a listener who is not attached to any of it, who doesn’t know the story of how it was written, who doesn’t know how it works, who doesn’t know why this is important to you.”

What he’s offering, essentially, is a critical ear. Rubin is the anti-Yes-man, the producer whose opinion on what he likes (and what he doesn’t like) actually matters to some of the most driven and successful people on earth—to the guy whose indomitable will told him that he was more than a piece of the Roc-A-Fella production machine, to the guy who knew he could go from “Hawaiian Sophie” to being the King of New York, and now, to the rapper whose perfectionist vision lifted him from the trailer park to international fame.

For as much as I adore Eminem’s music, I can’t say that I’m a fan of his new single, “Berzerk”. That said, I am very excited to know that Rubin is collaborating with Eminem on MMLP2. If Rubin’s influence is as fruitful as it was for Linkin Park and Kanye, then my ears are in for a real treat.