Given the title, borrowing from Alfred Hitchcock, I thought we'd be getting a horrorcore album, something where he's taking more shots at rappers, or even an album with more of a hardcore hip hop vibe to it. While there are aspects of all of those to some degree, they aren't incredibly strong features, so perhaps the theme isn't what the title will suggest to most listeners.
Eminem obviously hasn't made anything to match his peak for a while, but the hate is absurd. There are some weak punchlines, mainly in the more pop-friendly songs, but as I said regarding 'Kamikaze', he makes up for it with other bars or his technical talent. People nitpick some of them to 'prove' what a bad album it is. It's like pulling out the atrocious 'Ain't No Nigga' to back up a low rating of Jay'z 'Reasonable Doubt' without mentioning the high points. Lauded Lil' Wayne projects have a lot more wack lines than Eminem albums. I don't quite get how some can adore his first album or two but point five this with the criticisms some have. People are really calling 'this album' edgy and tasteless but as mentioned, have given his first couple of albums high ratings...? A line or two aside, like the concert one, that probably would've been better tweaked, I don't hear it. Nostalgia is a helluva drug and hypocrisy is rife.
Anyway, the production on this is consistently decent and nothing is terrible. It feels similar to what he has had on his last couple of projects, without the bad stuff from 'Revival', which still is not good enough though. Maybe Eminem thinks his rapping can carry the songs, and he wouldn't always necessarily be wrong, but I often feel he is selling himself short by not putting more work into the beats. Forget about Nas, Eminem is a long way ahead in the race of heralded rappers with an average ear for beats.
I found a lot more on the second listen than the first. I find 'Those Kinda Nights' to be the only really weak song, with the following 'In Too Deep' not far behind. 'Unaccommodating' is with those after Young M.A. kicks the song off but Eminem steadies the ship. She raps like she's stoned making her sound incredibly boring. These days I see the 'rappity rap' style (basically quick skilful rapping) receiving hate, mainly by younger rap fans, but I love hearing it done well as Em does throughout a number of verses here. We seem to have forgotten about, not only the talent it takes to say it, but as a writer, the attention to detail needed to finely construct lyrics so it's possible and can be comprehended. The rhyming and flow at the end of 'Yah Yah', where he is paying homage to artists who influenced him, is great as well. I don't know what people are hearing when they say his flow is non-existent or that he uses the same flows. He uses more flows on one song than many rappers use across a whole album. People have also had the criticism that he has used these flows before. How many rappers, who are 25 years in, are using different flows? Surely his bag of tricks is big enough. He still cares and cannot be criticised of phoning it in, as he plays around with his delivery a lot. On 'Godzilla' he slowly increases his pace and changes the flow across groups of bars in the third verse. I understand some may want to hold him to a different standard given his talent, but damn, people are harsh.
If you hated his last couple of projects I wouldn't bother checking this out, but if you have enjoyed anything recently, or just like his style of rapping, I think enough of this is decent-good enough to be worth a listen. It's pleasing to see that some critics are paying respect to his performance. There are some poor songs and moments, but the high points are brilliant and something few rappers can do.
Best Tracks: Premonition (Intro), Godzilla, Yah Yah, Never Love Again, Little Engine, I Will
1 Premonition (Intro)
This kicks off well with Em rapping fantastically over one of the harder beats on the album. People have complained about him whining. He is just rapping about his last album and how he feels he can't please everyone. "They said my last album I sounded bitter / No, I sound like a spitter."
Another hard trap beat that transitions well from the intro. The unfortunate thing is that the previous song has great energy and it definitely doesn't follow on here with Young M.A. starting the song sounding annoying and stoned, as she normally does. Eminem saves the song though, matching the energy he shows on 'Premonition'.
3 You Gon' Learn
Royce raps well but his conspiracy theory content is questionable. The slow vibey beat offers variety to the first couple of songs and is nice. Eminem raps about his come up.
4 Alfred (Interlude)
5 Those Kinda Nights
The first low point and the poppiest. I like the D12 references as Eminem goes back to his early life partying with chicks but this has the weakest bars. My least favourite song on the album.
6 In Too Deep
The topic of Eminem and women continues, here in a relationship. Another weak song. The beat is poor, Eminem is on the hook and his raps aren't as interesting.
A fun mostly brag rap track where Em raps like fire on the third verse getting faster as it progresses. I'd rather someone else on the hook rather than the annoying Juice WRLD but the verses are great. The references to great rappers of the past and those who influenced Eminem is a feature here as it is throughout the album."Is my gangster bitch, like Apache with a catchy jingle."
The deepest track here being about mental illness, the 2017 LA shootings and gun control. Similarly to 'Walk on Water', the message is there but the production could be more interesting.
9 Leaving Heaven
Another song with some deeper content about his past where he ponders his 'privilege', discusses his family, particularly his father, as Skylar Grey returns for the hook, who co-produced it as well. The production and rapping performance is a touch more interesting than the previous song. "And I don't know if I would call that white privilege, yeah / But I get it, how it feels to be judged by pigment."
10 Yah Yah
A busy beat with Busta Rhyme's 'Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check' being used for the hook. The most hardcore hip hop song on the album. I can see the hook turning people off this, and maybe even the beat, but I think it's one of the strongest tunes thanks to its energy.
"Bitch had to gave me a baby, we named it Machine Gun Kelly/Now here's to LL, Big L and Dell/K-Solo, Treach and G Rap/DJ Polo, Tony D, ODB, Moe Dee, Run-D.M.C./ Ed. O.G. and EPMD, The D.O.C., Ice-T, Evil Dee/King T, UTFO, Schoolly D, P.E., BDP/YZ and Chi-Ali, Rakim and Eric B, they were like my therapy/From B.I.G. and Paris, Three Times Dope, and some we'll never see, and PRT/N.W.A and Eazy-E, and D.R.E. was like my GPS/Without him, I don't know where I'd be." Fire!
11 Stepdad (Intro)
We've heard a lot about Eminem's mother over the years. Here he tells us how much he hates his stepdad and the abuse he and his mom used to cop. He sings on the hook, which could be better and perhaps more fitting.
Brag rap. A bit about his beefs. More enjoyable rapping.
14 Never Love Again
He personifies drugs, spitting about his drug use. A strong song.
15 Little Engine
This starts off a little boring, and with some weak bars, but the different flow and production, particularly on the hook, make it enjoyable for me. Another one I can understand not liking but I think it's a fun track.
16 Lock It Up
I think the theme here is about people doubting Eminem saying he was done, with a few jabs at MGK and Budden.
Again Eminem is singing on the hook with the topic seemingly about his relationship with drugs. "Trick you with a back rub/Tell you to relax then dump your ass in the bathtub." The beat feels almost Caribbean influenced. I like the contrast between the poppy beat and intense raps.
18 No Regrets
As the title suggests this is an introspective song. "Yeah, they miss the old me / I think they want me to OD on codeine / They want my life in turmoil like in '03 / They want front row seats, I give 'em nosebleeds."
19 I Will
"If it was anyone's house G Rap and Rakim would be havin' you mop floors." Commoner Jamar deserves more bars directed at him. A strong closer after a strong backend, that's less trap-influenced compared to a number of songs featured.
20 Alfred (Outro)