Eminem’s eighth studio album, “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” released yesterday, is a continuation of the album’s 2000 predecessor, “The Marshall Mathers LP.”
The new album offers intense, emotionally insightful tracks into the 41-year-old rapper’s continuous struggle with fame, his past, future and his place in the evolving rap game.
The connection from his first LP, which is his best selling album, to the latest, is audible in the album’s first track “Bad Guy,” a dark, seven-minute revenge filled continuation of “Stan.” “Stan” is a musical narration of a psychotically obsessed fan’s downfall from the perspective of Stan’s brother, Matthew Mitchell.
Mathers ends the first track with a lung-stressing outro harping on the inevitable karma of his drug filled and lyrically offensive past.
Near the end of the album, Eminem revisits “Cleaning Out My Closet,” a track from “The Eminem Show,” attacking his mother, Debbie Mathers. “Headlights” offers an apology to his mother for the hateful blame in the past.
The apology’s vocals are sung by Nate Ruess, lead vocalist for Fun, and reveal a forgiving maturity Eminem’s grown through.
The album’s ability to shift a song’s vocal emphasis from rapping to singing to yelling to a Yoda rapping impression is as creative and, as one of Eminem’s singles to the album is accurately named, “Berzerk,” as ever.
“Berzerk” is a throwback to old school, Beastie Boys aged rap. It includes appropriately insane beat shifts and vinyl scratching that may be too dated for today’s rap audience.
Eminem’s last single released before the album dropped, “The Monster,” featuring Rihanna, bridges the 13-year musical gap between his first LP and the most recent album. The track fixates on Eminem’s inability to be comfortable with the fame he’s created but also the inability to give up his passion for making music.
“I wanted the fame, but not the cover of ‘Newsweek.’ Oh well, guess beggars can’t be choosey. Wanted to receive attention for my music. Wanted to be left alone in public. Excuse me. For wanting my cake and eat it too, and wanting it both ways,” Eminem raps to start the first verse of the song.
On almost any Eminem album, he alters or samples a past song or two and makes his own, rap-adjusted version like in “Sing For the Moment,” “Stan” or “Like Toy Soldiers.” In “Rhyme or Reason,” Mathers uses his alteration of The Zombies’ “Time of the Season” as an attack on his father, rapping,
“So yeah dad let’s walk. Let’s have us a father and son talk. But I bet we probably wouldn’t get one block. Without me knocking your block off.”
The sampling of songs continues on the track “So Far,” which shifts from a sample of Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good” to a quick flashback to Eminem’s early anthem, “The Real Slim Shady.”
“Went to Burger King. They spit on my onion rings. I think my karma’s catching up with me,” Mathers raps in the comedic track centered on his Detroit roots.
Eminem isn’t joking on his final track of the album “Evil Twin,” proclaiming his spot at the top of the rap game when he raps “Hogger of beats. Hoarder of rhymes. Borderline genius who’s bored of his lines. And that sort of defines where I’m at and the way I feel now.”
Overall I give this album four out of five stars.