Eminem’s eighth album is deemed as a follow up to the critically acclaimed Marshall Mathers LP released way back in 2000. When the first record came out, it was a revelation. The rap game was changed and Eminem was shown as the clever, angry, and offensively brilliant lyricist he’s now famed for. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (MMLP2) therefore has a lot to live up to, it needed to be a continuation of the previous record, but also bring something new, especially with recent albums such as 2009’s relapse seemingly losing their spark.
Back is everything that made MMLP great and more. Somehow Eminem has managed to make an album so insightful, intricate, funny and full of so many styles, in many ways it surpasses the original. With beautiful seamless links between the two albums, such as mentions of old songs on track So Far… and revisiting character Stan on album opener Bad Guy, it brings nostalgia and originality into one entity.
In fact Bad Guy is one of the albums best songs setting up the record nicely, ending up as almost three different tracks rolled into one. “Looks like I’ve had a growth spurt, but I’m coming for closure” states Eminem, showing maturity and moving on is as important as revisiting the past.
There’s also the delightful problem of what to call the artist. Eminem? Marshall Mathers? Slim Shady? All parts of his psyche pop up throughout, making the songs diverse with different emotions and styles taking the lead in different songs, the ever offensive and arrogant Slim Shady even being let loose on Rap God with the line “Six minutes Slim Shady, you’re on”. With all these different personalities flying around, it almost makes you believe Eminem’s more than an individual, and makes the album so varied, not needing other rappers to fill out the vocals, Kendrick Lemar being the only rapper making an appearance on Love Game.
Marshall still has a penchant for clever and funny pop culture references, Berzerck featuring samples from The Beastie Boys and a line about sleeping with the ugly Kardashian, whereas Time of Reason uses The Zombies Time of Season as a hook and features Eminem doing his best Yoda impression and talking about Star Wars.
But it’s not all fun and games. Anger is a huge factor, and wouldn’t be complete without it. So Much Better sees Marshall seemingly angry at everyone and everything, and Legacy, a piano led track talks of the singers past and childhood, managing to be sweet and angry at the same time, an impressive feat. The Nate Ruess featuring track Headlights later on takes up the reigns from Legacy and pulls at the heartstrings even more, a testament to Eminem’s ability to open up through his music so honestly. He lives his lyrics like every great songwriter should, and this is shown throughout the record.
Rap God has to be one of the best tracks on the album. Kicking off with a robotic beat, Eminem shows his skills throughout, even berating himself in self-parody, almost to stop others doing it for him, a clever defense mechanism. “You’re stuck in a time warp from 2004 though and I don’t know what the f*** that you rhyme for”. Arrogant, ingenious and showing off, exactly what is needed for a track called Rap God.
Stronger than I was features more actual singing from the artist, and with Eminem not having the strongest singing voice, the song isn’t as good as it could have been. The Monster featuring Rhianna is also being released as a single, which is a shame as its not one of the best tracks, probably just put out as a single to get a few more sales. These are minor quibbles however, as MMLP2 should be seen as a classic.
Eminem reconfirms himself as one of the best contemporary wordsmiths of our time with a clever, inventive, and well though out album. To all his doubters who thought he lost his way, listen to this record and eat your words.
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