The Bottom Line
Significant discussion has been generated by Eminem and his partner in Bad Meets Evil Royce da 5'9" choosing to dip into the alternative hip hop genre with a trademark Bruno Mars chorus on "Lighters." It doesn't match the approach of the rest of their EP Hell: The Sequel, but it is undoubtedly an engaging, soulful pop hip hop blend. The confidence of both rappers brims over to such an extent "Lighters" even sounds a bit schmaltzy at times. The collision of stylistic approaches merits closer listening.
- Bruno Mars' soulful, memorable rap
- Eminem's self-reflective humor
- Striking blend of pop and hip hop
- Veers into pop rap schmaltz
- Written by Marshall Mathers, Ryan Montgomery, Peter Hernandez, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Roy Battle
- Produced by Eminem, the Smeezingtons, and Battleroy
- Released July 2011 by Interscope
Guide Review - Review: Bad Meets Evil - "Lighters" featuring Bruno Mars
"Lighters" kicks off with the warm, pleasing vocals of Bruno Mars celebrating living out one's life dreams with validation from a sea of admirers represented by the concert tradition of lighters in the air. It is followed by a confident and amusing Eminem rap in which he asks us to forgive his cockiness while he dismisses any haters that would argue with his status as the world's top rapper. Once you get past the language fixation on cocks, it is easy to appreciate the self-reflective humor found in lines like, "Had a dream I was king, I woke up, still king..." When Royce da 5'9" takes over for his verse there is more love for Eminem bubbling over, while he also depicts his own long path to respect. For now, Royce da 5'9" lets us know he is comfortable with being considered second best rapper to his musical partner.
This song is far from the typical hardcore rap created by Bad Meets Evil. The overall impact is almost warm and fuzzy. Since he introduced himself to a wide pop audience on the chorus of B.o.B.'s breakthrough hit "Nothin' On You," Bruno Mars seems to churn out memorable pop hooks with impressive consistency. It is the chorus that most listeners will remember from "Lighters," but don't miss the charm and wicked humor in the rapping here.
Eminem's musical journey has taken him from some of the most powerful, groundbreaking hip hop ever recorded to a drug-fueled haze which impacted his music by making it feel mostly like he was running in place. Now he has emerged from that to create music that is powerfully engaging to pop audiences while losing none of the visceral impact of his best raps. While "Lighters" may not be the hardcore rap many Bad Meets Evil fans want to hear, it is a reminder to mainstream pop fans that hip hop and pop can blend without alienating audiences of either genre, and that is an accomplishment to celebrate.