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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Eminem - The Mashall Mathers LP 2 Review [2]
Posted by Tony Acero on 11.05.2013

1. “Bad Guy”
2. “Parking Lot” (Skit)
3. “Rhyme or Reason”
4. “So Much Better”
5. “Survival”
6. “Legacy”
7. “Asshole” feat. Skylar Grey
8. “Berzerk”
9. “Rap God”
10. “Brainless”
11. “Stronger Than I Was”
12. “The Monster” feat. Rihanna
13. “So Far…”
14. “Love Game” feat. Kendrick Lamar
15. “Headlights” feat. Nate Ruess
16. “Evil Twin”
Deluxe Bonus Disc
1. “Baby”
2. “Desperation” feat. Jaime N Commons
3. “Groundhog Day”
4. “Beautiful Pain” feat. Sia
5. “Wicked Ways” feat. X Ambassadors

Eminem has had a career that started hot, waned a bit, petered out, then had a bit of a resurgence recently. Throughout each one of these alterations, however, this reviewer has been one of his biggest fans to date. To say that there is no bias within the review ahead would be a blatant lie, but even with a strong attempt to analyze the album without said bias, a struggle to find an issue with the album was extremely difficult. With the name of the album being a direct sequel to what many consider to be Eminem’s best album ever, there was a lot of pressure riding on The Marshall Mathers LP 2. Did Eminem succeed in creating a viable follow-up, or has the ship sailed on the now 40-year old rap veteran.

From the very first track, “Bad Guy,” there is an open door with a welcome mat to the past, only our ringleader has a new megaphone. Eminem begins this sequel with so many nods to its preceding albums, it’s ridiculous! The first song has a man attempting to murder Eminem. That man’s name is Matthew Mitchell, and the claim is that he’s killing Eminem for his older brother. Who is his older brother? Stan, from “Stan.” In a chill-inducing intro, Eminem reminds us just where this album is coming from and where it’s going to. This begins a common theme of continuous callbacks to his prior albums that are in such an abundance, I haven’t the energy to write them all out. Just know that if you’re a long time Eminem fan, you’ll be loving the callbacks, and there are sure to be those feels of chills that come along with nostalgia. Whether it’s a retread of verses, or an extension of a skit making it darker than thought possible, the “old Eminem” is all over this album, and it’s amazing.

The second track is an ambitious and ballsy attempt to sample The Zombies’ Time of the Season, and I’d say it’s successful in the same way that the song with Kendrick utilizes The Game of Love by The Mindbenders, that is to say that they work well given the song, but perhaps aren’t as solid as expected. The production elsewhere is noticeably different, and backing any other voice, it would come off as sporadic and messy, but Eminem has some uncanny ability to adapt and alter his words and sentences to work with the beat to the point where it feels like it’s attempting to catch up with him at times, rather than the other way around. Eminem makes a viable attempt to return to his roots with a newfound energy in his lyrics. He’s always been a metaphorical genius, but when every song boasts double entendres and requires repeat listening to the lyrics specifically, it comes off as nothing short of poetic.

While there are certainly no “Ass Like That” songs, there are a few moments of juvenility that don’t always coincide with his age. The usage of “fag” comes off as tired in the amazing “Rap God,” but it’s surrounded by such amazing lyrics that it’s almost impossible not to forgive him. The continuous references to his father, while powerful, have been done before and may cause the listener to question whether Eminem is truly over it, or is riding the same horse he’s been riding for years. Still, with sixteen tracks to lay down, the complaints are spaced out enough to not come off as excessive. Truly, the only track that stood out as possible cutting room floor-fodder would be the sole one where Eminem thinks that singing is the best route to go. “Stronger Than I Was” is great lyrically, but it seems to want to take itself seriously, even though Eminem is well aware singing is simply not his strong suit.

Eminem has a focus that is unparalleled in every single word he spits on this album. The lyrics are some of the most crisp and multi-layered ones will ever hear. The poetic devices are as complex as any upper division class would have you analyze. Inverse rhymes, metaphors, double-meanings, puns, literally every single thing one would want from a page of lyrics screams out on the album for your mind to beg for more. This is not an exaggeration, considering how wonderfully poignant some of the songs are. Eminem, in a wild and amazingly shocking turn, pens an apology letter to the woman he’s done anything to from killing to raping on an album, and it comes off as genuine – not in the least fraudulent. His ability to point out his flaws, whether it’s hypocrisy of claiming he’d never let his daughter listen to someone who talks the way he does, or the fact that he is an “Asshole” as he claims on the track of the same name.

As per usual, Eminem isn’t afraid to make fun of himself, nor is he against representing a world full of miscreants. At his age, this should come off as tired and a shallow attempt to garner the fame that he once had, but just when one thinks that, he drops gems like his popularity falling enough to be able to spit a line that, at one point, had to be blanked out completely (the Columbine line from “I’m Back”). The risks he takes shouldn’t work, but destroy any notion of failure within a minute. Take “So Far…” as an example, where he gets honky with it, using The Eagles’ Joe Walsh’s track “Life’s Been Good” to help him out. It sounds very “Bezerk” like until he mixes some tracks everyone will surely be familiar with and, again, calls back to the awesomeness that was almost as if to remind us that that man isn’t dead; he’s just been missing for a while and…is back.

One track amongst all the others that people have been clamoring for in the hip hop world is the Kendrick Lamar guest starring “Love Game.” Entire blogs have predicted a Kendrick demolishing, an Eminem boisterous rap, a fast-versed, quip-filled, bad ass track that would destroy any and all expectations. With that type of build up, there’s no way this song could possibly succeed and yet…it does. In a sense, Eminem starts off relatively soft and childish – including a fellatio-filled bar or two – before Kendrick hits the mic, almost as if to say “No, Em, we ain’t doin that, we doin this” and proceeds to rip apart the piece with some great bars, only for Eminem to nod his head and close it out with awesomeness, being one of the few that Kendrick simply did not outshine as a guest star.

The album isn’t without flaws, as mentioned above, but they are seemingly immediately forgivable considering the lyrical prowess. The content can get tiresome at times, and some of the beats will take a bit getting used to, but once the lyrics takeover and your ear becomes attuned to what is going on here, there’s no denying the sheer pleasure that new and old fans alike should feel when listening.

The 411: With the complaints being so minimal, it's hard to call this album anything but a success and a true return to form for the great Eminem. One track misstep, and some content question leaves this just out of the 10.0 range, but there's no denying that this album is my pick for best of the year.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  9.5   [  Amazing ]  legend


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