Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP 2 Album Review

Eminem Mmlp2 Cover

rating: 2.5

€œWhen a kid€™s getting bullied and shoots up his school and they blame it on Marilyn / And the heroin, where were the parents at?€ said Marshall Bruce Mathers III at twenty-eight years old, a fresh-faced hypercritical political observer with a pen and a supersonic tongue, but still a €œten year old degenerate grabbing on genitals€ at heart. Thirteen years later, after terrorising Moby for still making music at thirty-six, it seems a lifetime of staring outwards has caught up on Eminem €“ in €˜The Marshall Mathers LP 2€™, he is more self-aware and diffident than ever. In a moment of stark honesty during €˜Asshole€™, he confesses €œIt€™s apparent I shouldn€™t have been a parent, I€™ll never grow up€. If self-reflection is his new outlet of expression, what does this mean for the music? Is the second king of controversy (the worst thing since Elvis Presley) a soft touch? The answer: yes and no. He still hates women €“ some things never change €“ but his signature wit is ever so slightly less scathing (€œI got 99 problems and a bitch ain€™t one / She€™s all 99 of €˜em, I need a machine gun!€). That tongue of his is running at a healthy 6.5 words per second, as displayed in the dynamic electro grooves of €˜Rap God€™, but when he admits to not being €œas big as was€, it makes us wonder if he really is cognizant enough to work out why. After effectively disowning €˜Encore€™ and €˜Relapse€™, he has left his previous album €˜Recovery€™ relatively untouched €“ despite the fact that the moments where this album feels like a hangover from 2011 are its biggest flaws.

Eminem Mmlp2 Berzerk Single Lead

While Eminem€™s writing ability seems largely back on the right track €“ no more €œlove is evil, spell it backwards I€™ll show you€ nonsense €“ €˜The Marshall Mathers LP 2€™ lacks what its spiritual father provided in heaps: hooks. Back then, Eminem€™s multi-faceted talents as an artist of storytelling and a darkly comedic and often absurdist purveyor of ice cold satire allowed him to deliver resonant choruses at the centre of his genius raps. But here, that aspect of Slim€™s output has taken a back seat to allow an assortment of docile guest stars to jar the entire flow of the album, binding him down with refrains that are barely even radio-friendly €“ let alone memorable for the more involved listener. Astonishingly, in eight of the fifteen tracks (excluding the skit) Eminem doesn€™t get a word in edgeways during the chorus €“ which means few of his verses are allowed to seep into the hooks with the same fluency as they did with such classics as €˜Criminal€™. Instead they plod along a repetitive verse-chorus-verse loop €“ most infuriatingly on the archetypal stiff pop singles like €˜Survival€™, in which Slim draws a long list of Call of Duty metaphors over a mechanical pseudo-rock beat with less edge than a blunt pencil. €˜The Monster€™ fares even worse; lacking any meaning whatsoever beyond wild money-grabbing which, given its current position at the head of the charts, is working. Even the potential of penultimate track €˜Headlights€™ €“ which involves Marshall Mathers finally apologising (€œI love you Debbie Mathers€) to his mother after years of emotional and musical torment, law suits and refutation €“ is squandered by the recurring squawks of Fun€™s Nath Ruess. Some of the most genuinely profound words from Eminem€™s lips since €˜Cleanin€™ Out My Closet€™ are dissipated into a MOR pot of trifling indulgence, making this personal turmoil seem like passive schmaltz. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab9176Srb5Y That is not to say that the album is a repeat of €˜Recovery€™ €“ it is kept afloat by adventurous movements like the leering, horrorcore opening track, €˜Bad Guy€™, in which Slim Shady finally pays for his indirect responsibility for the death of €˜Stan€™ €“ at none other than the hands of Matthew, Stan€™s brother. This exhilarating belated sequel is cathartic; it€™s almost symbolic of unfinished business that has been hanging over Mathers for a decade and has finally been addressed.But the album sadly never lives up to this 7-minute epic, despite some worthy efforts from €˜Brainless' €“ which balances a tight melody with some more introspective glances into Eminem€™s struggle with bullying as a child, how putting pen to paper purged him and the role of his mum among all the misery €“ and the Rick Rubin-produced Beastie Boys/Billy Squier synthesis romp €˜Berzerk€™. The latter is one of the best singles Eminem has put out in a decade €“ it€™s here that he really finds the balance between catchy hooks and funky verses that he€™s looking for, and he manages it with the help of good old sampling rather than guest appearances. And, while it does sound like €œvintage Slim€ in places, there is something forward-glancing about how old-skool it is too. In €˜The Marshall Mathers LP 2€™, Eminem combines this sense of past, present and future with musings on finally coming-of-middle-age and evaluating his current position in the world as a father, a musician and a person. Much like its title hero, the album is its own worst enemy €“ and, at worst, a messy affair. Irksomely, there is a genuinely commendable successor to arguably the best rap album of the 00s in here somewhere, but it spends far too much time wrestling with the need to appeal to casual radio audiences with collaborative overkill to acknowledge its latency. The subsequent complacency in some of the album tracks suggests that grown-up Eminem may not be quite as discerning as he first appears. It€™s got a wild schizoid underbelly that€™s begging to be set free, and one can only hope that Marshall Mathers will detect it before he€™s too old and has let go.
Contributor
Contributor

A mythical hedonist, a chronic solipsist, a poet armed with a mouth full of adjectives, a brain full of adverbs and a box full of laxatives. Writing words in a language that isn't real to impress people that I invented since The Big Bang.

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