Music Pop: The Marshall Mathers LP 2

Artist: Eminem
Year: 2013
Example song:  Rap God

As I promised a good while back (in my first post in fact) I’ve finally managed to find the time to give The Marshall Mathers LP 2 enough of a listen to be able to say something about it.  As a big Eminem fan (second in my all-time most played list) I got hold of this album as soon as it came out and played it through within a couple of days.  It impressed me immediately, and it usually takes me a few goes to get into an album (for example Kanye’s Yeezus).  Last night I gave it another go and it’s only growing on me.

The LP opens with “Bad Guy”, a surprisingly long but certainly worthwhile sequel to “Stan”.  Eminem sings from the perspective of Stan’s little brother Matthew, who picks up the stalking baton with added thirst for revenge.  This flows into the album’s only skit before Zombies-sampling “Rhyme or Reason” and my personal favourite “So Much Better”, a hate-filled yet catchy song which reminds me of “Puke” from 2004’s Encore.

Then follows “Survival”, an aggressive, almost rock-y single which might even sound more at home on 2010’s Recovery.  “Legacy” and “Asshole” come next, two decent but unspectacular efforts.  “Berzerk” (the album’s first MMLP2single) is a good fun throwback to the Golden Age of hip-hop, with a couple of Beastie Boys samples, although it is perhaps a little incongruous to the flow of the album which is itself an homage to 2000’s Marshall Mathers LP.

In “Rap God”, Mathers boasts of his rapping prowess while simultaneously proving it with the performance. “Brainless” and “Stronger Than I Was” are good solid tracks, and “The Monster”, featuring Rihanna, is a good song but I’m not sure it deserves all the attention it’s getting.  “So Far…” and “Love Game” are again not bad but neither has apparently stuck in my mind.

The album heads towards a close with “Headlights”, an apology track to Eminem’s mother for all the blame he placed on her throughout his career.  The first time I heard this song I just sat there stunned, unable to believe my ears, but it seems that Marshall and Debbie Mathers have actually patched things up, hopefully for good.  It’s a decent song featuring Nate Ruess of fun., an artist currently popular with the industry as well as with me.  “Evil Twin”, the final track of the album proper (there is a lot of bonus material), is nothing special but not bad.

After the rubbish of Relapse and the more modern sound of Recovery, MMLP2 harks back to a much earlier time in Eminem’s career and feels more traditionally Marshall Mathers (hence the name, I guess).  Eminem refreshes his well-honed writing skills with a burst of fresh energy, reminding everyone why he was so successful in the first place and assuring us that even as he gets older he’s still got a reserve of that trademark enthusiasm to keep him going for another while yet. It’s perhaps a backlash to the criticism of his recent albums that they’ve been a little too “mainstream”.  This rap pioneer brought hip-hop to the mainstream, and he’s not going to let anyone say he’s abandoned it just yet.

My rating:  8.5/10

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