Berzerk (song)

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"Berzerk"
Single by Eminem
from the album The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Released August 27, 2013 (2013-08-27)
Format Digital download
Genre Hip hop, rap rock[1][2][3][4]
Length 3:58
Label
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Rick Rubin
Certification Platinum (RIAA)
Eminem singles chronology
"C'mon Let Me Ride"
(2012)
"Berzerk"
(2013)
"Survival"
(2013)
Music video
"Berzerk" on YouTube
Music sample

"Berzerk" is a song by American rapper Eminem, and produced by Rick Rubin. The song, released on August 27, 2013, is the first single from Eminem's eighth studio album The Marshall Mathers LP 2. The song samples Billy Squier's "The Stroke", as well as the Beastie Boys' "The New Style" and "Fight for Your Right", both songs taken from their 1986 debut album Licensed to Ill, which Rubin had also produced. The song was heavily downloaded in its first week of release, resulting in the song debuting at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Composition[edit]

Rick Rubin produced "Berzerk".

The song, produced by Rick Rubin, samples Billy Squier's "The Stroke", as well as the Beastie Boys' "The New Style" and "Fight for Your Right",[5][6] both songs taken from their 1986 debut album Licensed to Ill, which Rubin had also produced.[6]

The song starts with a "blast of static, hard guitar and Em roaring out of the gate sounding like the long-lost, fourth Beastie Boy", according to Yahoo! Music critic Craig Rosen.[6] According to Rosen, the song samples the Beastie Boys as they exclaim "Kick it!" in "The New Style" and borrows power chords from Squier's "The Stroke".[6] However, Rolling Stone's Eric R. Danton claims that the "Kick it!" sample is from another part of the album, where Ad-Rock introduces "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)".[7] According to Billboard's Lars Brandle, the song is "a punchy, guitar-and-beats driven song which channels Joan Jett & the Blackhearts' I Love Rock 'n' Roll and Licensed to Ill-era Beastie Boys."[8]

Release and promotion[edit]

"Berzerk" originally premiered on August 26, on SiriusXM channel, Shade 45.[5] The Marshall Mathers LP 2, a sequel to Eminem's acclaimed studio effort The Marshall Mathers LP, was revealed during MTV Video Music Awards on August 25, 2013 with two previews of "Berzerk" via Beats By Dr. Dre commercials.[9] Some critics describe Eminem's return in these commercials as the highlight of the show.[6] The video that accompanied the song featured a boombox prominently.[6] The song is the featured song for the 2013 season of Saturday Night Football, debuting with the September 7 Michigan–Notre Dame football rivalry game.[10]

Commercial performance[edit]

"Berzerk" sold 362,000 downloads in its first week in the US, debuting at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 becoming Eminem's 15th Top 10 hit on the Hot 100.[11] The song has peaked at number two on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[12] When the R&B component of the chart is removed, the song debuted at number one on the Rap Songs chart.[11] "Berzerk"'s debut is just below the debut of the lead single for Recovery, "Not Afraid", which sold 379,000 copies in its first week.[13] It has sold over a million copies in the US as of October 2013.[14]

In Canada, the song debuted at number two with 50,000 downloads sold, which more than doubled the 24,000 downloads sold in the debut week of "Not Afraid".[15] It was Eminem's best one week download total ever in the country, until it was surpassed by the 54,000 downloads sold for Eminem's later single, "The Monster".[16] The song was certified Double Platinum in Digital downloads in Canada on November 1, 2013.[17]

The song debuted at number one on the UK R&B Chart[18] and was replaced on the chart by his single "Rap God".[19]

Critical reception[edit]

Will Hermers of Rolling Stone gave the song 4 out of 5 stars, highlighting its goal to "celebrate old-school hip-hop".[20] Robert Copsey of Digital Spy gave the song 4 out of 5 stars, stating the song "harks back" to Eminem's "Slim Shady days". Copsey compared the song to Beastie Boys circa 1986, although the song as "inimitable" and "unmistakably Eminem".[21] Vh1 India gave the song 8/10 concluding, "Whether you shudder under 'Berzerk's' cacophonous assault or wear its raps like an emblem — it's 2013, and Eminem still got your attention."[22]

Music video[edit]

During the halftime at the September 7, 2013 Michigan–Notre Dame football game, Eminem premiered a preview of the music video for "Berzerk". Then the video was premiered two days later on September 9, via VEVO. The video was filmed in Brooklyn, New York and directed by Syndrome.[23] It features cameo appearances from fellow American rappers Kendrick Lamar and Kid Rock[24][25] (both of whom Eminem mentions in the song's lyrics) in addition to Shady Records labelmates Slaughterhouse, Mr. Porter, Yelawolf and The Alchemist, the song's producer Rick Rubin and Eminem's manager Paul Rosenberg. The video also features short clips of backyard wrestling as well as short clips of the official music video of Billy Squier's "The Stroke", which is heavily sampled in the song.[26] The video received a nomination at MTV Video Music Awards 2014 in the category "Best Hip-Hop Video".[27]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Ceremony Award Result
2014 Grammy Awards (56th) Best Rap Performance Nominated
2014 World Music Awards Song of the Year Nominated
2014 MTV Video Music Awards Japan Best Hip-Hop Video Nominated
2014 Detroit Music Awards Outstanding Video / Major Budget (over $10,000) Won
2014 MTV Video Music Awards Best Hip-Hop Video Nominated

Track listing[edit]

  • Digital download[28]
  1. "Berzerk" – 3:58

Charts and certifications[edit]

Radio and release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
Italy[62] August 27, 2013 (2013-08-27) Contemporary hit radio Universal Music
United States[28] Digital download Shady, Aftermath, Interscope
Mainstream urban radio[63]
September 3, 2013 (2013-09-03) Contemporary hit radio[64]
United Kingdom[65] October 6, 2013 (2013-10-06) Digital download

References[edit]

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  2. ^ ""Who decided that a rap-rock comeback was OK?": Initial thoughts on Eminem’s bizarre Marshall Mathers LP 2 – FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music". Factmag.com. 2013-10-31. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  3. ^ "Eminem Ads ‘Rap and Roll’". Guardianlv.com. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  4. ^ Korina Lopez, USA TODAY 3:59 p.m. EDT August 27, 2013 (2013-08-27). "Is Eminem's 'Berzerk' worth the wait?". Usatoday.com. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
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