In Defense of... Eminem, Royce Da 5'9" and Bruno Mars' "Lighters"

Two project albums from prestigious hip-hop duos have been released this summer. Jay-Z and Kanye West, of course, released

Watch The Throne

last week. But, back in June, there was another: Eminem and collaborator-turned-enemy-turned-friend-once-more Royce Da 5'9" released

Hell: The Sequel

under the name Bad Meets Evil.

Both albums have a recreational feel to them, as if both pairs said, "Hey, let's just dick around in the studio and see what happens."

As a result, we got two albums that should be listened to as informally as they were recorded.

Do that and you come to realize rather quickly that, no, neither of these records are masterpieces. But they cut the mustard just fine, thanks.

So. Which is better? I'll say Hell:The Sequel.

Whereas Watch The Throne just gives Kanye and Jay-Z another opportunity to boast their wealth and to plug designer brands to great beats, Bad Meets Evil lets Eminem skip the lamentation and focus on his skills in alliteration.

And let's face it: Hearing Shady lambast pop stars again is pretty neat. It sure beats him crying angrily about his lack of fear or requiring a doctor. The project also gives renowned lyricist Royce another opportunity to shine after being exiled from Em's circle last decade.

"Lighters," with its schmaltzy chorus by Bruno Mars and garish orchestral sound, is the Hell's most formulaic track. But what saves "Lighters" from becoming a problem is the duo's smart writing and delivery. Em's verse in particular provides a tumble of enunciation. Royce's lines, meanwhile, aren't as alliterative, but he does write a few nice allusions to Manny Paquiao, T-Pain and former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. And his last line playing on Bruno Mars' name and the Brüno 2009 MTV Movie Awards stunt was pretty clever.

Really -- and I can't stress this enough -- despite this song's pop trappings, it's good to hear Eminem stepping back from all the drama and really ignite.

Plus, it's just fun to hear this stuff, cut it up and judge it.

My ruling? Two thumbs up

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