Eminem, ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2′ – Album Review
Eminem released ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ in 2000 and 13 years later, he is back with ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2.’ Em has said he knew he needed to match the original’s intensity in order to give it a sequel’s title and vibe, and he has succeeded.
His most recent prior albums –‘Relapse’ and ‘Recovery’– were a bit more serious, with heavier-than-granite topics, inspired by his struggles in life. While mining what he deals with as a human being is always par for the course with his rhymes, the rapper is looser and somewhat more at ease on ‘MMLP2.’ He spits rhymes with renewed fervor and you can hear that he still enjoys what he does and has more to say.
The rap dynamo also dipped into the classic rock vault for his samples on the album — beyond Billy Squier on the single ‘Berzerk,’ he utilized songs by The Zombies and more.
Ultimately, ‘MMLP2′ doesn’t disappoint. At all.
1. ‘Bad Guy’
Angry Eminem starts off and spits rhymes laced with lots of curses and his rage escalates. He warns that he is about take his frustrations out on his ex, whose house he stalked. It’s sorta ‘Stan’-like and Em comes unhinged, lyrically.
2. ‘Parking Lot’ (Skit)
Something’s going on here, involving Eminem and cops, and a shooting.
3. ‘Rhyme or Reason’
Em samples The Zombies’ classic ‘Time of the Season’ and has fun on this track. His skills are still top notch. He has reinvigorated passion for the hip-hop genre which won’t die on his watch. He also spews about his father, saying they couldn’t walk a block together without Em knocking his sire’s block off. So no, his edge has not been dulled or blunted.
4. ‘So Much Better’
“My life would be so much better / If you just drop dead” is the lyrical hook, but it’s sung in an upbeat cadence, making a really mean statement sound funny. It’s probably the catchiest song on ‘MMLP2.’ Who knew wishing someone would die could sound so fun? “I’m just playing b—h. You know I love you” is how the song ends. But is he and does he? That Eminem — he always keeping us guessing.
Backed by a crunchy riff, stadium-sized, glam rock riff, it’s a pulsating rock song, featuring the unforgettable vocal of the New Royales’ Liz Rodrigues. Many assume it’s Grey singing, but it’s not. The lyric we love? “I must be allergic to failure / Because every time I come close to it / I just sneeze.”
It starts out with a piano and Eminem asks, “Why am I so differently wired? Am I a martian?” He raps through gritted teeth as he self-diagnoses and looks back at his childhood. He eventually realizes that being so different and enduring these struggles is what made (and makes) him special.
7. ‘A–hole’ Feat. Skylar Grey
Em’s frequent cohort Grey sings the chorus, but it’s a different sound for her, as she is surrounded by marching band-like percussion. We can imagine this song becoming anthemic. Another deep lyric: “The only women I love are my daughters / Sometimes I rhyme / And it sounds like I forget I’m a father / And I push it farther / So father forgive me / If I forget to draw the line.” You don’t get that type of introspection in rap music or popular music every day by every artist.
Em’s first single from ‘MMLP2′ is a rager, and one of his best of all time. It nods to (and samples) the Beastie Boys, and has unharnassable energy. After the seriousness of ‘Recovery,’ he was able storm out of the gates, let go and have fun. Only Em can sample Billy Squier’s classic ‘The Stroke’ and make it sound fresh and new.
9. ‘Rap God’
Why be a king when you can be a god? Em spews 6,077 words in six minutes, averaging 16.64 words per second, which caused an outpouring of “best rapping ever” accolades. We can’t deny we’re impressed at his deftness with words and the genre. We bow down to the rap god, thanks to his speed-of-light verses.
Oh man, what a hook! With harmonies and the declaration, “If you had a brain, you’d be dangerous,” this song finds Eminem mining what he was told as a kid into song. If only he had a brain? What is he, The Scarecrow from ‘The Wizard of Oz?’ He has proved to be deft and clever with words, proving those who questioned his smarts wrong. By this point, the album is such a look inside the brain of Marshall Mathers.
11. ‘Stronger Than I Was’
There’s more marching band percussion here, without much instrumentation, just some vulnerable Eminem vocals. The sonic change is a nice respite amid the storm. It’s a positive song about “being humble when I scream ‘F–k you.'” There is some restraint as he sings about someone making him stronger by virtue of their mistreatment of him. It’s ‘MMLP2′ boasting a note of hope.
12.’The Monster’ Feat. Rihanna
‘The Monster’ is the pop song of the album, thanks to Rihanna’s vocals. It’s not ‘Love the Way You Lie V. 2.0,’ either. It’s Em and Ri singing about mental illness. The monster under the bed could just be their own dark sides. And dayum if this ain’t catchy! Em and Ri have a worthy reprise. We can’t deny their crackling vocal chemistry. This should be another smash for the twosome.
13. ‘So Far…’
‘So Far…’ owns a bit of a country-rock riff that, one that you’d expect from Eminem’s fellow Detroiter Kid Rock. So, yeah, Em goes country…but within reasonable limits.
14. ‘Love Game’ Feat. Kendrick Lamar
Em raps about how his ex cheated on him with every rapper under the sun and samples Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders’ ‘Game of Love,’ giving it a bit of a classic, English pop rock feel. That’s another surprise and solid touch.
15. ‘Headlights’ Feat. Nate Ruess
The rapper addresses his strained relationship with his mother Debbie Mathers in this open letter to her, as fun. singer Nate Ruess leads the song with his androgynous vocals in the beginning. This is a surprise vocal pairing, as is Em’s outpouring of love towards mom when he raps, “You’re still beautiful to me / Because you’re my mom.” The sentiment is appreciated, especially since their battles have been well-documented. There is a particularly painful moment in the song when he mentions the fact that daddy f–ked ’em both, which should have driven them closer together, but didn’t. That’s a hard pill to swallow.
16. ‘Evil Twin’
Here, Em calls out the boy bands and admits, “I ain’t got it all upstairs / I guess that’s why I’m an addict.” But he’s not down and out. He’s stronger than ever as he references the breakdown of Britney Spears and the Casey Anthony scandal. There’s Em, inserting himself into pop culture like only he can.