Album Review: The Marshall Mathers LP 2

Eminem is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time and widely considered one of the best rappers alive. He is capable of both fun pop culture satire and beautifully depressing reflection on his past. Since his darker 2010 album Recovery, his collaboration with Dr. Dre on the single “I Need a Doctor” and his reunion with Bad Meets Evil partner Royce da 5’9” for their 2011 EP Hell: The Sequel, Eminem has crafted his newest masterpiece The Marshall Mathers LP 2, the “sequel” to his renowned 2000 album. “Bad Guy” gets the album off to a great start with an intoxicating chorus and some hardcore verses that promise Eminem is back and means business as usual. A few songs down the list is “Berzerk,” the album’s first single, which harks back to old school Slim Shady with a fun, adrenaline-fueled you-only-live-once attitude. It’s a very nostalgic ‘90s throwback track that was a genius choice of a song to introduce the LP to the public. Next comes an all-rap, all-Eminem opus. “Rap God” is the rapper’s show-off track, in which he flaunts his Busta Rhymes-style fast rapping and wordplay skills, and it’s a pleasure to listen to. It’s epic and egotistical but without being pretentious. “Rap God” is Eminem getting up in your face but in good taste. First it was the hit single “Love the Way You Lie” on Recovery, and now it’s “The Monster,” Eminem’s second powerhouse collaboration with Rihanna that has competed for the top spot on iTunes for quite some time now. “Love Game” is a bitterly hilarious romp on relationships and cheating. It’s Eminem going off on romance and backstabbing affairs, and it’s a very funny, fun track that is one of the best songs on the album. Kendrick Lamar only adds to its greatness by delivering some rapid-spitting verses and an awesome chorus that has a bluesy feel to it. Unfortunately, the slew of perfected hits comes to a slackening point with the track “Headlights,” featuring a rather lackluster chorus by fun. front man Nate Ruess. I’m a huge fan of Ruess and the band, but this collaboration does not work. One of the closing songs, included on the deluxe edition bonus disc of the LP, is “Beautiful Pain,” in which Eminem delivers decent verses but is overshadowed by the chorus of Australian pop singer Sia, who also steals the spotlight in David Guetta’s “Titanium” and Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones.” Sia has a beautiful voice and a knack for hard-hitting choruses; for her part alone, this is the best song on the album. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is a very meticulously crafted album, the wordplay being outstanding and almost uncanny. Furthermore, its major collaborations are mint, hit singles; there’s no doubt about it. “The Monster” has already peaked at number one on the charts, and the others are bound to get there soon enough. Then there are the rap-heavy tracks like “Rap God” that emphasize Slim Shady’s talent more than anything. Despite this, I must cite the “hit singles” as a flaw, for they overshadow Eminem and seem to be carrying the bulk of the material. The focus seems centered on these catchy collaborations and not as much on the artist of the album, unfortunately. In addition, Eminem has stated that his frequent use of homophobic slurs is intentional and to prove a point, but they seem too subtle and misguided to get across such a message to everyone. Many will take offense to them. Overall, Eminem’s newest album is a near-masterpiece with throwbacks to his older work and a nice blend of emotional depth and fun energy. It’s definitely worth a listen or two or three.