Today we go back to 2011 for the Eminem and Royce Da 5'9" or better known as Bad Meets Evil collaboration tape 'Hell: The Sequel'. This short EP was released by Eminem and Royce around 12 years after the single 'Bad Meets Evil' on 'The Slim Shady LP', where it explicitly says "...see you in Hell for the sequel". With two top tier lyricists and a lot of hype - would this short EP live up to expectation?
Firstly, as usual, to the production. There's some decent beats on this project but a few bland ones as well - overall the production is bearable but nothing crazy or groundbreaking - the appeal is all on what the rappers do over these beats. The beats tend to be menacing, intense and heavy throughout but doesn't do anything to wow me - except to the beat on 'Above the Law' which I find great with these menacing drums and intense atmosphere. Royce has some great wordplay and punchlines all throughout, such as "And this just rap, I'm just like Ricky Hatton, I just like the line", referring to boxer Ricky Hatton's cocaine problem and his ability for good rap one liners, as Em also showcases some good wordplay and punchlines. The hook performed by Claret Jai is great with her aggressive delivery capturing this whole don't give a fuck persona she's trying to prove. The beat on 'Loud Noises' is an example of a pretty bland beat, and this whole song isn't exactly great. Em and Royce have some witty lines and are the highlight of the track because the other members of Slaughterhouse are boring. Yes their technical ability is very good with crazy rhyme schemes and flows - but there aren't any bars at all and they aren't talking about anything - there's nothing really interesting to their verses.
As for the rappers themselves, well they're both top tier lyricists aren't they. There's so many great and witty one liners, wordplay and punchlines all throughout, such as Eminem's whole dice wordplay on 'Fast Lane', "Screaming, "Shady 'til I die!" // Like a half a pair of dice, life's crazy // So I live it to the fullest 'til I'm Swayze // And you only live it once, so I'm thinking 'bout this nice, nice lady // Wait, no, stop me now 'fore I get on a roll (Danish)". This whole song is an example of the competitive nature of the pair as they push each other to the limit over these quick and heavy drums. The flows of both rappers are great - it's an amazing song and I'll shout out another great bar from the song from Royce, "That these shell casings is just like a bag of paper // Dropped in the lap of a tax evader, homie, they spent". 'The Reunion' is a misogynistic story of Em and Royce getting girls on a night out, with both rappers spitting some funny lines, Em with some great wordplay and both of them telling a story each, Royce dropping the hard bars: ""Why you never make songs for chicks as if it's hard to do?" // I said, "I make songs for me, leave the studio, and go // And fuck the bitch who belong to who making songs for you"". The melody of the violin in the beat is great and the hook from Eminem is so catchy and probably the best hook on the album. The album is full of fast flows throughout which never sound forced or choppy and both rappers giving us an aggressive and menacing delivery which is fitting for the whole bad and evil aesthetic. Royce's wordplay with Gucci Mane and Gucci the brand is entertaining on the track 'A Kiss', "Gucci's my absolute state of mind like Waka's man". This is a great track again full of wordplay and punchlines from the rappers as they talk primarily about getting head and then not wanting to kiss a girl afterwards over this over a twinkling yet banging beat with heavy 808s.
There's a few features on this project, mainly they just end up doing a hook except for the posse cut featuring Slaughterhouse on the track 'Loud Noises'. Bruno Mars' hook on 'Lighters' is actually very good I don't know why people hate the song song and the hook so much - he has great vocals and makes it catchy. The track is an introspective piece with honest lyrics as Em talks on overcoming his drug addiction to be the best again, "To get it through your thick skulls that this ain’t // Some bullshit; people don’t usually come back this way// From a place that was dark as I was in just to get to this place // Now let these words be like a switchblade to a hater’s ribcage!", and Royce talks on the struggles of being an underground rapper. The aggression and desperation in Em's voice works perfectly for the track as does the heavenly synth bass as Em really steals the show on this one. Claret Jai's hook however on 'Take From Me' isn't as good, in fact it seem a cheap radio attempt but comes off annoying and isn't catchy. They talk on life issues on this track (Royce about fake friends and his relationship with his brother, Em on feeling not as good as he once was and both talk about their music leaking and what it means to them). The verses are alright but the mediocre beat and awful hook means I won't return to this one.
Content wise, for the most part it's about the rappers skill and status/dominance in the rap game which is shown straight from the get go on the opener and arguably the best song of the project 'Welcome 2 Hell'. Eminem comes in so hard over these haunting vocals and quick drums with great punchlines, aggressive bars and slick wordplay, "There's a switch, I flip, emotions cut off // So cold, I done froze my butt off // And this ain't even the tip of the iceberg yet // It's like squirtin' a squirt gun in the ocean, fuck all", before Royce jumps in, leading them both to bounce off each other (especially in the final verse) with great flows and great competitive energy. I mean there is other content here like on 'Lighters' or 'Take From Me', but other than that it's just technical rapping really.
The only other track to look at is 'I'm on Everything', which is all about being high and on drugs. The Mike Epps sample for the hook ties in with the theme of the song well and is quite catchy, and the rappers keep you hooked with bars, punchlines and wordplay throughout. The electronic yet menacing beat is great as is the flows - especially in the last verse where they go back to back it's just breathtaking honestly.
To conclude, this EP is a great little project - short, but intense with fast flows and great rapping. The chemistry between them is insane - you can hear it from the first track to the last and the competition is always high too. There's a couple dull moments but way more great songs than bad.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Welcome 2 Hell, Fast Lane, The Reunion, I'm On Everything, Lighters
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Take From Me
OVERALL RATING: Light 8/10