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“It’s just me you and the music now Slim, I hope you hear it / we’re in the car right now, wait here comes my favorite lyric / I’m the bad guy who makes fun of people that die, and hey / here’s a sequel to my Mathers LP just to try to get people to buy”
Many of Eminem’s fans and followers widely regard The Marshall Mathers LP to be his finest hour on record. When you take into account it was followed with a host of somewhat ‘duff’ albums like Encore or the downright obnoxious Relapse, it’s hard to disagree. His last effort, Recovery, was a step up in song quality and had more of a pop-influenced sound with guest vocals by outfits such as Rhianna. His latest album though, which was leaked on the 30th October, signals the arrival of a possible elephant in the room – does it deserve to be a sequel to Eminem’s Chateaubriand?
Most peoples worries started to surface when 1. Berzerk was released and 2. the name of the album was announced. It’s a bold move for Shady to dig up the bones of an album that many punters and professionals regard as a true modern classic, especially if people have right to believe that you’re past your best. Berzerk? An interesting lead single full of Slim’s trademark wobbly self-medicated chorus’s mixed with a rock-infused beat and DJ scratches. The good news for fans, though, is that Berzerk is probably the least defining track on this album. It’s almost unfair to this album that Berzerk has been used effectively as an advertisement.
“I’m going back to what got me here / I’m going cocky”
The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (I’m probably going to refer to it as TMMLP2), in short, is definitely Eminem’s strongest album this side of The Eminem Show. It’s full of exceptionally strong verses that far outshine anything spat on his previous 2-3 albums and strong female (and male) choruses that compliment Recovery. Let’s set one thing straight here: most songs are really well constructed, and not one song is below 4 minutes in length (aside from a skit and Berzerk which is 3.59 – give me a break). The album’s referencing culture is hard to miss too – constant references to older songs, situations and you guessed it: his mum, his dad, and ‘bitches’.
The first port of call is opener Bad Guy, which is honestly the best opener to any Slim Shady album I’ve ever heard. It’s a 7 minute romp that sets out the plans of the record (my life is garbage / and I’m about to take it out on you), while bringing back that ‘bad boy’ attitude that people love Eminem for. Weirdly, but not surprisingly, it’s filled with remarks about “one last time I’m back” and “the last chapter in the saga” – it seems to be a running joke for him that every album, he scares his audience with threats to pack rapping up for good. Which he never does. Bad Guy seems to start slow and measured, and slowly and slowly gets to boiling point – a trick that Eminem uses through this record with expert precision.
“So yeah dad let’s walk / lets have us a father and son talk / but I bet we probably wouldn’t get one block / without me knocking your block off”
There’s also dark humor that he injects into this, just like he did with the original. Fans of genitals will be pleasantly surprised with this album, and even fans of Eminem doing Yoda impressions (althought I imagine that being a pretty small community). Rhyme or Reason is a diss track about his dad, So Much Better is a diss track about women. It even ends with the classic “I’m kidding, you know I love you” that ended Kill You on TMMLP.
There’s just so many great tracks on this record that it’s impossible to say this is a bad album – it’s hard to label it any less than excellent at times. Tracks like Legacy and Stronger Than I Was see’s Eminem bring it back to Recovery, and The Monster featuring Rhianna does a far better job at uniting the pair that Love The Way You Lie did. Fun.s Nate Ruess does a stellar job at chorusing Headlights, an epic towards the end of the album which really demands you as a listener.
One issue regarding choruses is that all of the female singers (bar Rhianna) all sound the same. Another weird point is that some are credited, and some are not. Skylar Grey, known for singing the chorus on I Need A Doctor, returns to sing on Asshole, which is a pretty weird but confident track. Rap God is one of the strongest tracks on the record, not to mention one of his most self-praising tracks – just one listen to his ‘supersonic speed’ verse and you’ll clearly hear why people regard Eminem as one of, if not, the greatest rapper of all time.
“Everybody want the key and the secret to rap immortality like I have got / well, to be truthful the blueprint’s simply rage and youthful exuberance”
I found myself laughing at a lot of this album, pleasantly surprised at Eminem for his humour that many feared was dead. Whereas Relapse was vulgar and Recovery was a serious statement of intent, TMMLP2 brings Eminem back to his younger black-humour that people loved back in 2000.
People’s worries surrounding this release have been justified by his previous efforts and lead single Berzerk. It’s clear, however, that this batch of Eminem tracks is far suprior to anything he’s done recently, and it shows that he’s worked to produce some of the greatest lyricism that he could possibly muster. The scale of each track is mammoth when you give this album a whole listen through. TMMLP2 is worth it. The worries surrounding it’s roots and origins aren’t. Go listen to some Slim Shady again, because he’s back.
Apologies for the crappy unofficial lyric video.
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