Music Review: Eminem’s ‘Marshall Mathers LP 2’

Eminem performing at Lollapalooza in 2011

Eminem performing at Lollapalooza in 2011

Eminem is commonly regarded as one of the greatest legends of Hip-Hop that the world has ever seen. In his prime, his connection to Compton rapper Dr. Dre set him apart from other white quasi-rappers like Vanilla Ice, creating appeal in the black hip-hop fandom, while his skin color made suburban white kids feel more comfortable listening to rap. Eminem sparked controversy that rap had never seen, intelligently commenting on American society and spitting bars of lyrical genius, usually directed at other celebrities and politicians. He connected to listeners by speaking candidly about his past in Detroit, his family life (Mommy problems to the extreme), and his addictions to drugs like cocaine and Valium. When Eminem entered the scene, he brought something to the table that no other rapper had ever done. After a long hiatus from rap, he returned to the industry with mixed results.

By: Mattison Johnston

Looking back on Eminem’s legacy, it’s sad to admit that there seems to be very little of the old Eminem left in him. After the disappointment of Relapse and Recovery (albums in which Eminem first tried to replicate old Eminem, then make pop when that failed him), the Marshall Mathers LP 2 was hardly a surprise.

The album opens with “Bad Guy”: 7 minutes of awkwardness and uncreative (though expensive-sounding) production. The song features Sarah Jaffe, who sings a soft and typical female hook, and a little bit of singing from Eminem himself, who apparently still hasn’t learned that he should stick to rapping on his tracks. And, to my chagrin, “Bad Guy” set the precedent for the entire album. Eminem beats listeners over the head with that same basic female hook in each song, making the album’s tracks blur together: the same problem Eminem faced in Recovery.

But, you can’t really blame him. Modern popular rap has quickly embraced the female hook with a fury, and Eminem has followed suit. While he may be less creative than ever before (probably due to his sobriety), he’s definitely not inexperienced with the music industry. He’s also picked up on the EDM (electronic dance music) trend, and has exchanged the sounds of his old beats, which were admittedly simple, but pleasing, for more a more modern sound. On top of this, he seems to have also realized that the last thing most people want to hear more about is his daughter Haley, who is thankfully absent from this album, despite the fact that Eminem has been using references to her to get back at his ex-wife for years.

However, there are two staples of Eminem he has stuck to with MMLP2: Skits and disses. It’s really too bad that skits are outdated and uncomfortable to listen to, and Eminem’s disses would be more appropriately placed on The Eminem Show, which was released in 2002, rather than an album from 2013. He goes in on  the “ugly Kardashian,” Insane Clown Posse, Britney Spears, Yoda, Gwen Stefani, Monica Lewinski, and Helen Keller: all people (and aliens) who have been flying under the radar for years, and surely don’t deserve to be dug up again in an Eminem song. It makes me miss the pointed and intelligent remarks of Eminem classics like “White America”, with lyrics like “Democracy of/Hypocrisy: (bleep) you Ms. Cheney, (bleep) you Tipper Gore, (bleep) you with the freest of speech these/Divided States of Embarrassment will allow me to have”.

So, I supposed it’s time to admit that Eminem will never be the same. We can say goodbye to creative punchlines aimed with a purpose, simple and catchy beats, and raps about the real issues of living in Detroit that we all loved in the past. Eminem is all grown up, and seems a bit confused as to where he should head now in terms of music. Despite my feelings about MMLP2, I will always love Eminem and look back on his golden years with unmatched nostalgia. With the utmost respect, I hope he leaves his legacy as untarnished as he can, cuts his losses, and retires with his head held high.

Grade: 1.5 stars (out of 5)

By: Sam Kelly

The past couple years, it just seems like Eminem can’t do anything right. Not for a lack of talent, he’s got plenty of that, and its come out in every album he’s put out. Rather, on his newest venture, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 he just seems confused, and with good reason. He’s obviously trying to please his fans with this new album, but that’s difficult to do when you’re getting mixed signals as to what your fans want. In 2009, in an attempt to harken back to his glory days, he put out Relapse, and it was immediately regarded by most people as his worst album yet. The album felt awkward and poorly timed, mainly because he wasn’t in his mid-20’s anymore, but a 37-year-old man. So the next year, he came out with Recovery, a more serious, age-appropriate album about his battle with drug addiction. His fans weren’t happy with that either, saying they wanted the “old Eminem” back, the one who rapped about celebrities and murder.

So in 2013, what is 41-year-old Marshall Mathers to do? This is the question he tries to answer with this album, and it simply doesn’t turn out very well. My problem isn’t as much with the lyricism or beats as it is with the overall theme of the album. His first couple songs are a promising, though not exceptional, attempt at revisiting his first couple albums, The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP. He raps fast, attacks pop culture icons, and impersonates Yoda, albeit awkwardly. But the album soon regresses to Recovery-esque Eminem, rapping about more serious, personal issues. Songs on the second half of the album, like “Stronger Than I Was” and “The Monster,” just don’t mix well with the first half that features songs like “Berzerk” and “So Much Better.” The songs that are produced by Rick Rubin, like “Berzerk,” are uncomfortable when Eminem raps over them. He needs to leave the hard guitar heavy beats to the Beastie Boys.

The one highlight of this album is the 3rd track, “Rhyme and Reason.” The sample of The Zombies’ “Time of the Season” is genius, and it fits perfectly with Eminem’s fatherless background.

Other than “Rhyme and Reason,” this album is disappointing and confusing. I feel bad for Eminem. I don’t know where he should go from here. He obviously can’t go back to the “old Eminem,” but no one seems to like the new one. I hate to say this about the rap legend who provided the soundtrack to my adolescent years, but it might be time to call it quits.

Grade: 2 stars (out of 5)

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