|Recording information: Bangladesh Studios, Atlanta, GA; Clarus Audio; Effigy Studios; FBT Studios; Headqcourterz Studios, Ltd., New York, NY; Isolation Studio; Levcon Studios, Los Angeles, CA.
|Since the hip-hop community caught wind of them around 1999, Bad Meets Evil spent a decade in the more-a-legend-than-a-band category. Members Eminem and Royce da 5'9" spent those years not speaking thanks to beefs and feuds, but then the 2006 murder of their mutual friend, D12 member Proof, brought them back together. Fast-forward to 2011 and this EP re-launches the project, although fans have already been notified that Hell: The Sequel is "a collection of tracks" so excuse the mess. It's not much of a mess, really, as the glossy "Lighters" feels more like a Bruno Mars track than Detroit diesel, while "stop stealing my music" tracks like "Take from Me" rarely become fan favorites. Everything else works just fine, with Royce displaying growth and superior skills that casual fans have slept on, while Em puts one foot in the past where gross humor ("Tell Lady Gaga she can quit her job at the post office/She's still a male lady") and scrappy rhymes reigned supreme. His other foot is in the Relapse/Recovery-era present with all the soul searching you'd expect, but as interesting as this career-spanning blend is, it is even more interesting when contrasted with Royce's more traditional brand of thugging. Throughout his career, Mr. Mathers has given props to his Detroit hip-hop clan and spoken of his interactions, but his discography has been somewhat light on examples. Past the Mars cut, Hell: The Sequel helps right that wrong, providing the welcome sound of Shady meets the streets. ~ David Jeffries