The Marshall Mathers LP 2... The Shady doth protest
Review: Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Published on November 11th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
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Aside from the odd overt reference, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 doesn’t bear as much resemblance to the original Marshall Mathers LP as Eminem himself would have you believe.
The production is crisp, vivid and layered where once reigned Dr Dre’s cartoony plinks, while Eminem’s voice is now an angry, weathered squawk as opposed to the zippy sneer of old.
Happily, his virtually unparalleled skill as both rapper and wordsmith remains intact. A psychotic humour remains, but it’s a damaged one:
“Behold the final chapter in a saga / Trying to recapture that lightning in a bottle, twice / The magic that started it off / Tragic portrait of an artist tortured, trapped in his own drawings / Tapping the thoughts blacker and darker than anything imaginable / Here goes a wild stab in the dark” – you know, “My Name Is” it ain’t.
There are more frivolous moments such as the Yoda impression in the Zombies-appropriating “Rhyme or Reason”, the old school party hip-hop of “Berzerk” and the dazzlingly quickfire rhymes – well, showboating – of the ingenious “Rap God”.
More characteristic of the album though is the bitterness that pervades the menacing-if-slightly-campy singalong of “So Much Better”, as well as the various channels of rumination explored in “Brainless”, marked also by an ace popping B-boy beat, and the impassioned “Stronger Than I Was”, which otherwise comes across as a watered-down version of “Hailie’s Song” from The Eminem Show.
The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is further tarnished by some truly ghastly guest appearances, most shamefully Rihanna’s pitiful contribution to “The Monster” – honestly, how many more times do we have to endure that particular arcing melody from “The Scientist” and “Empire State of Mind”? – and the downright aggravating presence of Fun. front man Nate Ruess on “Headlights”.
Like much of the lyrical content, we’re dwelling in negativity when really there is a lot to enthuse about. “So Far…” genre-hops within itself to great effect, Kendrick Lamar lights up the sample-jumping “Love Game”, and the curtain-closing “Evil Twin” finds our hero in fine fettle with regards provocatively rendered pop culture references.
So, lots of self-examination and willfully offensive schtick; the usual Slim Shady fare, and it’s still gripping even after all these years.
The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is out now on Aftermath Records.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!