GENRES: Hip-Hop, Rock-Rap
TOP TRACKS: Bad Guy, Rhyme or Reason, So Much Better, Survival, Asshole, Berzerk, Rap God, Brainless, So Far, Love Game, Evil Twin
I thought it would be Random Access Memories, I was wrong. I thought it would be Yeezus, I was wrong. I thought it would Magna Carta Holy Grail, Born Sinner, Reflektor, and a million other ones. I was wrong. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 was the biggest album announcement of 2013 for me. I wasn't watching the VMA's this year but when I heard about a commerical with Eminem for beats with a date on it, I immediately jumped on a computer and found the commercial on youtube. Let me just start out by saying that Eminem might just be my favorite rapper of all time. It might be debated and he might not even be technically "the best" just based on his recent albums and some other shotty releases. But to me, his persona and music were HUGE parts of my life when they came out and I enjoyed his wit, humor, lyricism and undeniably arrogant and offensively outspoken image as a rapper. On The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem says some incredibly offensive things that just make be laugh because I know he is doing it to receive a reaction.
Eminem's fiery and controversial personality quickly became his ticket to absolute fame and stardom as he earned the reputation of overall douchebag and most importantly AMAZING lyricist. Yeah, Em's lyrics and flow can't quite be matched by anyone else. With classics like Slim Shady LP, Marshall Mathers LP, and The Eminem Show under his belt within five years, Eminem already had his name cemented as one of the greatest rappers to ever live. Unfortunately then came Encore and after that Relapse and then most recently Recovery. These were three albums that really evened out Eminem's discography and made him sound human, On these three albums, Eminem was cheesy as hell in every single way. The unauthentic sincerity and lame jokes simply rubbed me the wrong way as a longtime Eminem fan.
MMLP2 to me is definitely a return to form for Eminem. After listening to it, I didn't immediately think "Oh my god! This is the best Eminem album I've ever heard" but instead it was more like, "Finally, that's how it should fucking sound." It's important to keep in mind that Eminem is still a little cheesy on his lyrics, hooks and production on some of the songs but I really don't even know what to say about that other than you can't expect him to change completely. The tracks on MMLP2 that stand out are really excellent hip-hop tracks and make this album a really enjoyable listen. But, my one main issue with his album that keeps it from being great in my mind like some of Eminem's earlier works is how HEAVILY Eminem relies on nostalgia with this record. I mean granted that it is called The Marshall Mathers LP 2 but a lot of this album refers to or continues previous ideas from the original MMLP. For example the Parking Lot Skit continuation, Eminem calling himself a "criminal" on 'Rhyme and Reason', and of course the same character that Eminem plays on a lot of his older work is all over this album.
The only exception where the continuation of the past works very well on MMLP2 is the opening track, 'Bad Guy' which is a continuation of the controversial and critically acclaimed, 'Stan' from Mathers LP. The story is told from the perspective of Mathew Mitchell, Stan's brother, who is now much older than he was in the first song and is plotting to kill Eminem. These parts of the song are told in a purposefully psychotic and choppy flow to paint the image of Mathew's crazy demeanor and inferior rapping abilities in comparison to Eminem. After the climax of the song, Eminem comes out (in his own flesh) with a passionate and intense verse about his career and how he's getting older. This was the first of many hints on this record that MMLP2 will be Eminem's last album. Obviously 'Bad Guy' was a stand out and so was 'Rhyme or Reason' and even 'So Much Better'. Originally, I wasn't too much of a fan of 'Survival' but the intensity to the rhymes and even the production with the drums and guitar really grew on me with every listen. For the most part, I felt the same way with Berzerk' and that Beastie Boys tribute happens to be one of my favorites. As for 'Rap God', I immediately was impressed by Eminem's speed and flow on the verses. The hook is kind of weak and some of the subject matter and jokes on the track are barely laughable while some of them simply make me question if Eminem is really serious.
There are two songs on The Marshall Mathers LP that I find absolutely disgracefully terrible in every way possible and yes, they influenced my overall opinion of this record and I'm still sour about them. The first one is 'Legacy'. Oh my god, that hook is one of the biggest pieces of garbage I've ever heard in an Eminem song. And then comes Eminem's "serious moment". I hate to say it, but no one really gives a shit whether or not Eminem was bullied as a child. Especially not if he tells us about it in such boring fashion. But that might just be passable compared to 'Stronger than I was'. It's sad to hear a grown man sing for 4 straight minutes when I'm sure even he was completely aware that he can't sing and it sounded like shit. Not only do I skip this song whenever it comes on, but it makes me angry to think that one of the greatest rappers of our generation considered this good enough to put on an album. I would be lying if I said I didn't hold this against Eminem. Wow, I can't even talk about it anymore it's making me too angry.
'Brainless', 'So Far' and 'Love Game' were healers for the wound that was 'Stronger Than I Was'. On all three of these tracks, Eminem is paranoid, neurotic and potent with his lyrics. Coming into this record, I was very excited for the collaboration with Kendrick Lamar and I wasn't disappointed by 'Love Game' as it was one of the quirkier and well put together tracks on the album. Was it what I expected? No, but it's really not safe to assume with Shady and Kendrick involved.
The track that everyone was talking about was 'Headlights' with Nate Ruess from the Fun on which Eminem forgives his mother after years of verbal abuse on his records (Fuck you Debbie!). But to me, this sentimental piece is kind of half-assed and calculated. I wasn't moved or inspired by this because I know Eminem's persona and I just didn't really buy into it. Plus, that hook and Nate Ruess's annoying voice did not help Eminem's case.
Overall, Marshall Mathers LP 2 is in my opinion the best Eminem project since The Eminem Show. The tracks on here vary from cringeworthy to incredible, but for the most part there is much more good than bad. Eminem is shocking, crazy and paranoid as ever for what seems to be the final time. If that is the case, I thank you Eminem for all the music you released throughout your incredibly successful career. The thing about Eminem is that while he is not perfect and has released absolutely terrible music before, he will still be considered one of the greatest of all time. There is nothing worse than a boring rapper, and whether you love or hate Eminem, he always evokes a reaction. The mark of a true artist.