Clocking in a handful of collaborations is automatic grounds for two artists to embark on a joint tour these days. Jay Z and Justin Timberlake did it. Hov did it again with Beyoncé. Drake and Wayne are going at it as Chris Brown and Trey Songz are cashing in. But when Rihanna and Eminem step into the fold, is there sense besides dollar signs to put two of music’s biggest chart toppers on the same bill? Behold, 15 thoughts on the “Monster” experience.
1. Taking a play out of the Carters’ book, the show at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium (Aug. 16) opened with a mini-film. Rihanna puts her best Olivia Pope face on and pays Eminem, a surprisingly funny lunatic, a visit at the Attica correctional facility. It’s a spin-off off their therapy session depicted in their “Monster” music video, and proof that their chemistry on-wax extends to the screen. Makes you wonder if they’re this comfy with each other IRL and text each other after watching an episode of Breaking Bad to dissect their inner demons.
2. Psychological fancies aside, the two are highly capable of making crowds lose their minds. Starting with the Unapologetic cut “Numb”, where Marshall Mathers emerges in a straight jacket, the overall theme for the show was saluting those who are, in Em’s words, “fucked up mentally.” No illegal substance required.
3. The ratchet never leaves Rihanna, who rocks white Doc Martens and a Motley Crüe shirt for majority of the show. She dutty wines through an hour’s worth of her risque pop hits, including the turn-up tune “Pour It Up” and every female’s birthday anthem “Cake.”
4. Even with a dearth of new material, Rihanna’s kept her multi-pierced ears to the charts, borrowing Trey Songz’ “Na Na” for a remix of “What’s My Name?”, and telling the Tri-State area, “Y’all like this shit!”
5. But when it comes to the battle of the solo sets, Em is the victor. His live renditions of vintage Marshall (“Just Don’t Give A Fuck”) mirrors the HQ album versions. Neck veins popping, he can go from deep cuts to Slim Shady silly real quick.
6. Rihanna filling in for other females on Eminem’s lineup, like Dido on “Stan” and Hayley Williams for “Airplanes” was a nice bonus. The mashup of “Renagade” and “Run The Town”, as well as “Won’t Back Down” and “What Now” made the sets more cohesive, similar to Justin Timberlake on Jay & Pharrell’s “I Just Wanna Love U” or Bey subbing in for Mr. Hudson on “Young Forever.”
7. The bad gal’s nipples also make an appearance. She showcased the pierced tatas that got her booted off Instagram through a sheer mesh bra towards the end of the night.
8. Style-wise, Rih channeled more of her masculine side, taking a cue from Schoolboy Q and performing the latter half of the show in a white bucket hat.
9. Em’s stage wardrobe remains consistent to his 8 Mile counterpart: hoodie, shorts, Nike sneakers (he chose two pairs of Air Maxes for this show), cap and signature mean mug.
10. Speaking of B-Rabbit, the Grammy-winning “Lose Yourself” rings off in the stadium. All the world loves an underdog.
11. A Shady Stan held up a sign that said “Fack!” which caught Em’s eye. “That might actually be the greatest song I ever made,” he says before promising to perform “that shit” live someday. That said shit comes (literally) off the 2005 Curtain Call collection, that gives a vivid recount of Eminem doing the sex and on the verge of erupting.
12. Given Rihanna’s live performances in the past, specifically her highly ambitious 777 tour (where she performed her seventh LP Unapologetic in 7 different countries in 7 days), the Bajan boombox has a tendency to flip the mic to the crowd instead of tackle her high notes head-on.
13. There were no standard requests from the entertainers for cell phone light shows. There were fireworks at the ready. Can’t find that at “On The Run” tour, IJS.
14. Eminem shouts out New Jersey native Redman and rallies the crowd into a call-and-response of “I’m fucked up” and “I’m high as hell.” Unfortunately, no cameo from Mr. Red, despite Twitter’s wishes.
15. Motor City’s golden child’s rap gymnastics are a marvel to see, especially when he spits the Marshall Mathers LP 2 lead single “Rap God” live. Miss him with the grandiose stage set or flashy chains, all Mr. Mathers needs is a mic, his hype man Mr. Porter, and DJ, Alchemist. There was no need to have Rih gyrate on him during their performances together, either. Believe that when he loses himself in the moment, he owns it.—Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)
“No Love (Don’t Hurt Me)”
“Run This Town”
“Live Your Life”
“Crack a Bottle”
“Won’t Back Down”
“Phresh Out the Runway”
“Talk That Talk”
“What’s My Name”
“Pour It Up”
“Cockiness (Love It)”
“All of the Lights”
“Where Have You Been”
“Love The Way You Lie”
“Still Don’t Give a Fuck”
“The Way I Am”
“Airplanes” (B.o.B. cover)
“Like Toy Soldiers”
“Forever” (Drake cover)
“Till I Collapse”
“My Name Is”
“The Real Slim Shady”
“We Found Love”