The polarizing rap superstar emerged from something like a deep freeze Thursday night with the surprise release of a new album, “Music to Be Murdered By,” his first LP since the coolly received (and similarly unannounced) “Kamikaze” in 2018.
With a characteristically macabre title reproducing that of a late-’50s album by Alfred Hitchcock, Eminem’s 20-song project features guest appearances by Ed Sheeran, Q-Tip, the Roots’ Black Thought, Anderson .Paak, Royce da 5’9” and the late Juice Wrld, among others. Dr. Dre, who helped introduce Eminem to a mainstream audience with early singles including “My Name Is” and “The Real Slim Shady,” is among the credited producers.
Eminem’s 10th major-label studio album, “Music to Be Murdered By” opens with what sounds like a dramatization of a woman being stabbed and then buried; various songs on the album refer to drugs, violence and mental illness — familiar topics for the rapper who became one of pop music’s biggest acts by continuously testing the boundaries of acceptable subject matter.
In “Unaccommodating,” he makes light of the terrorist bombing that killed nearly two dozen people as they left a concert by Ariana Grande in Manchester, England, in 2017: “I’m contemplating yelling ‘Bombs away’ on the game like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting,” he raps.
Eminem, who played festivals including Coachella in 2018, also released a music video on Thursday for the song “Darkness” in which an actor reenacts the 2017 mass shooting that killed 58 people at a country-music festival in Las Vegas.
At the end of the clip, which had been viewed nearly half a million times in its first hour on YouTube, a message appears onscreen that reads, “When will this end? When enough people care.”