Honoring the 15th anniversary of the label Eminem founded with his manager Paul Rosenberg, Shady XV features one disc of new recordings and one disc of the label's proven hits, all of it wrapped up with chainsaw-and-hockey-mask artwork that represents the label in 2014, not so much its funkified, 50 Cent past. After all, the biggest numbers on the archival second disc include 50 Cent's ode to bottle service "In Da Club," a strip club and frat house regular, plus D12s "Purple Pills," an Insane Clown Posse-ish piece with Eminem and friends in top, albeit silly, form. The other top bangers on disc two are all from Eminem himself, which barely counts unless Shady is merely a vanity label, but the true backstory shows that D12 never became that strong, third label act because key member Proof died, while Slaughterhouse are a veteran supergroup, or in other words, simple, solid fan-boy stuff. The hyperactive, Eminem and Kid Rock hybrid called Yelawolf is the most hockey-mask-and-chainsaw stuff on disc two, but he's better suited for the forward-looking disc one, where his "Down" attacks the speakers with snarl and Southern guitar, as if Eazy-E got his truck all dirty goin' muddin'. The wonderfully weird "Vegas" from Bad Meets Evil (Eminem and Royce Da 5'9) makes one wish the Shady label boss would find more time for the project, but he's already quite stretched behind the scenes, producing or co-producing eight of the cuts on disc one, including Skylar Grey's "Twisted," which isn't hip-hop, but glittery and goth giganto-pop. Great, grand, risky, and clever moments like this make Shady XV the worthy celebratory object that it is, but don't expect a deep roster or a cohesive game plan, because the label has always been more about close friends and family. Come here looking for that, and all-star posse cuts where outsiders like Big Sean and Danny Brown stop by ("Detroit vs. Everybody") feel as big as a Marvel vs. DC crossover, while bonus tidbits, like the demo of "Lose Yourself," are unmissable bits of Shady history.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2