It's tempting to dismiss D12's debut album, Devil's Night, as exploitative juvenilia, similar to how fellow Detroit hardcore rap acts such as ICP and Esham had been treated in the past. In fact, it's hard not to dismiss this album as shock rap because that's exactly what it is -- there's no denying it. As witty as Eminem may be -- and he's by far the most creative member of the group -- the countless forays into theatrical perversity far outnumber the more literate moments. But to dismiss the album strictly because of its themes would be unfortunate. As challenging as it may be for many to stomach the constant and incredibly explicit sex, violence, and drug references, there is a stunning album lurking beneath that deserves recognition. Functioning as the album's executive producer and as the producer for most of the album's beats, Eminem has done a wonderful job crafting this album and its foreboding feel. Influenced by the style of sparse beats Dr. Dre employed on Eminem's past solo hits, the troublemaking MC's beatmaking steals the show here, particularly on the album's standout moment, "Purple Pills." In fact, Eminem's beats often contest the couple equally impressive tracks that Dre contributes. Besides the remarkable production, Eminem also showcases his songwriting genius on several of the song's hooks, bringing a catchy pop-rap approach to hardcore lyrics. Yet no matter how accomplished this album is from a production and songwriting angle, it's impossible to look past the disturbing lyrics, especially those of Bizarre, and also Eminem's moments of unnecessary instigation. This album is obviously targeting those with a taste for perversity. If that means you, then you'll love this; if that doesn't mean you, then the album is still worth investigating, if only for Eminem's show-stealing performance as not only an MC but also as an adept producer and songwriter.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
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