Critical Voices: Eminem, The Marshal Mathers LP 2

November 14, 2013

Guess who’s back. Back again.

Shady’s back, and there has been a lot of hype surrounding the release of his latest album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2. The first Marshall Mathers LP was one of Eminem’s most important and definitive releases, inflating apprehension and excitement in its shadow. Fortunately, the legend is back and even better than before. MMLP2 is cold hard proof—hell, Kendrick is even on the album.

“There’s not gonna be, like, continuations of every old song on there or anything like that,” Eminem recently said in a Rolling Stone interview. “To me, it’s more about the vibe, and it’s more about the nostalgia.” And nostalgia is exactly what he delivers.

From the moment he starts rapping over the West Coast beat on the lead track, “Bad Guy,” it is clear that the real Slim Shady has stood up. The lyrical Eminem leads off in this track, rapping about his pain and his grudges, referencing both the lyrics and emotion of much of his previous work. As the track develops, and a solid vocal hook is added, the distinctive, angry gruff in his voice comes out.

While the album is generally more positive than its predecessor, focusing on Eminem’s renewal, his “Survival,” and his “Legacy,” there’s no shortage of rage. On “Rhyme of Reason,” his facetious alter ego, Slim Shady, rants about his mother, an essential component of every Eminem record, atop a playfully syncopated percussion line. Eminem’s hate-fueled lyrics haven’t lost their humor with age as he continues to call out family members, ex-girlfriends, rappers, and celebrities in his songs. “I’d be the third person who screwed you today. Oh, four? Dre, Drake, Lupe? Oh, touché,” Shady muses in “So Much Better.”

Though his lyrics and temperament are as raw and fierce as ever, MMLP2‘s range of instrumental support is refreshing in today’s monotonous popular rap industry. On the song “Love Game,” Eminem collaborates with Kendrick Lamar, one of the biggest and most innovative rappers in the game right now. This track cleverly tells a hilarious story about two different terminally insane love relationships—nothing new for Eminem.

MMLP2 encompasses all the best aspects of Eminem in small enough doses that it’s not overwhelming. You’ll still lose yourself in the nostalgia, the music, and the moment.


Voice’s Choices: “Rhyme or Reason,” “Survival”


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