Eminem goes ‘Bezerk’ again
November 22, 2013
“The Marshall Mathers LP2” isn’t so much a sequel to the original as much as it is Eminem’s way of stepping out of the thick waters of soul-bearing of his last two albums. Eminem’s recent output chronicled his battles with depression and drug abuse. When the first “Marshall Mathers LP” was released, it sent shockwaves through the mainstream. Thirteen years later, he surveys his career and pursues those things he does well with hell-bent pursuit; raw graphic story-telling, razor sharp juvenile wit, and a gymnastic flow.
The elements that have gotten him to 100 million albums sold are all here in spades but even through his barbarous insults, Eminem is aware that his worst enemy is himself. Cue the new colossal single, “The Monster.”“Love the Way You Lie” accomplice, Rihanna assures us, “I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed/ get along with the voices inside of my head.” The song most clearly explains the Eminem psyche that he’s shown since he first began telling us what his name was. It’s the two sides of him, Slim Shady and Eminem. The new hit acknowledges his demons but also hints they’re ultimately a part of the whole man.
The album’s opener is a seven minute melodrama that follows up the first Marshall Mathers LP’s single, “Stan”. Stan’s brother Matthew Mitchell (M&M, get it?) is seeking vengeance on Eminem for the death of his brother, and the years of anguish he’s been left with as a result. Around minute five, the beat ceases and over ominous strings the narrative voice changes from Matthew to Eminem. Then it becomes clear that Matthew represents all those that Eminem has aimed his often acerbic lyrical quips over his career from homosexuals, women to pop stars. Marshall Mathers can feel karma catching up to him.
Definitely don’t get the impression that as far as topics covered, Eminem took a leap here. That’s not necessarily bad because there’s a smooth transition in tone and style from his last album “Recovery,” but it has a flavor of its own. There’s hardly less venom and vinegar in his voice but there’s an introspection he now brings to his father’s absence in his life, his tempestuous love life, and mentally unstable mother, who he apologizes to in “Headlights” with fun. front man, Nate Ruess on the hook.
Superproducer/zenmaster Rick Rubin has taken it “back to straight hip hop” this year, being a major contributor to both Kanye West and Jay-Z’s albums, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the man with a beard full of secrets puts his distinctive spice in the gumbo pot here. Some of the standout tracks are Rubin beats, always old time rock ‘n roll tracks wove into playgrounds for Eminem to verbally hate-fuck on. “Rhyme or Reason”, sampling The Zombie’s “Time of the Season” has Eminem sing-songing, “there’s no rhyme or reason for nothing.” Rubin is also the architect of perhaps the most anticipated track, “Love Game” because of guest star, Kendrick Lamar, a labelmate of Em’s. The track, sampling Wayne Fontana’s ’65 hit “Game of Love,” has Eminem verses sandwiching a hook and verse from Kendrick, narrating their draw to the game of love even if they can’t ever seem to win it.
While not a masterpiece, “The Marshall Mathers LP2” could stand up next to the best of Eminem’s work, although Slim himself doesn’t seem to think much of it. Appearing in the booth at a football game on ESPN, he said what he was most excited about for the album was, “to just be done with it.” He’s sober, focused but seems like he might be getting bored, but it’s hard to predict what will be the next act in the Eminem show.