Eminem’s Retro ‘Berzerk’ Video Fails to Take Its Own Advice
What's saying "fuck it" about rose-tinted old-school nostalgia?
There’s a respectable precedent for the Beasties-and-Billy Squier throwback nature of Eminem’s chart-crashing “Berzerk.” Killer Mike’s El P-produced 2012 album R.A.P. Music was a “stunning anachronism,” we wrote; that record, which led to this year’s Run the Jewels collaboration, was open-minded, noisy, and creative enough to avoid being simply old-fashioned. “Berzerk,” by contrast, leans harder on references to other rappers and rap songs, and that’s also the case in the song’s newly released official video.
As demonstrated in an awkward but brilliantly attention-getting preview during Saturday night’s ESPN college football coverage, the “Berzerk” clip pairs famous cameos (Kendrick Lamar, Rick Rubin) with old-school visual allusions (vintage sports jerseys, the “So What’cha Want” video). The full version offers just that much more opportunity for reference-spotting — keep your eye out in particular for brief Kid Rock appearances. Another new addition is black-and-white footage of a heated blackjack game. “Life’s too short to not go for broke,” we’re repeatedly told, but that’s almost the opposite of what Eminem is doing here. When you’re leaning on tradition and industry clout, you’re definitely not starting from the bottom.
As an aside, the mouths-agape face Eminem and Rick Rubin are making in the video’s closing seconds closely recalls the one that set the Internet atwitter during that previously mentioned football game. Eminem’s MMLP2 is due out November 5; it’s one of SPIN’s 50 Fall Albums You Gotta Hear.