Love Games, the highly anticipated collaboration between Eminem and Kendrick Lamar has been released to the giddy delight and cynical scrutiny of eager listeners. While I can classify myself as an eager listener without hesitation, I have yet to decide which of the two aforementioned emotions best describes my current state of mind.
To cover the basics: it’s a fun song, there’s no question here. It’s upbeat, full of in-your-face humor and mixed with witty rhymes that speak to the comedian in Eminem. It’s characteristic of him to either create something over-the-top silly and jovial that isn’t meant to be taken seriously by any regard, or so incredibly dark and moody that it makes it hard to listen to all of his emotions without being distraught with emotions yourself. He’s a fan of extremes, and this track is extremely flippant. I don’t mean that in a negative way either; it’s not meant to be serious and it certainly doesn’t try to portray itself as such. Kendrick’s parts only add to the overall mood of the music.
The beat recalls something old school and reminiscent of an analog time, sampling Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders‘ Game of Love. With no heavy bass or deep house tracks in the background, I don’t foresee this being a major club hit that scantily clad night owls will readily grind their crotches to. But of course, there is no rule that decrees this as a requirement for successful music. In a recent interview with Billboard Magazine, Eminem says that he hopes to capture something of a nostalgic feeling with his upcoming album The Marshall Mathers LP 2 that might bring listeners back to their first exposure to his music. Love Games hits the nail on the head here with a sound so retro that it’s fresh.
Kendrick has been quoted saying that Eminem is one of his major influences, and likewise Eminem says what Kendrick has done in just a few years’ time is incredible. The two of them together are a lyrical match made in heaven. Witty and cleverly devised they have the depth of a poet and the slyness of a genius.