Album Review: Eminem "The Marshall Mathers LP II"

Eminem – “The Marshall Mathers LP 2”


Shady’s back, back again, and after the success of 2010’s return to form album “Recovery” he’s confident enough to title his latest release as a sequel to what most consider his masterpiece, “The Marshall Mathers LP”. Fans expecting a return to the violent, take-no-prisoners Eminem of that record will be disappointed, as instead this is an aural portrait of the man who got to the top, fell from grace and has now finally clawed back his reputation to be regarded as a legend of the genre. This album is very much what Eminem’s about circa 2013, and it’s all the better for it.

Nonetheless, there are a few throwbacks to the old school Em that fans will appreciate – opener ‘Bad Guy’ may as well be a sequel to classic hit ‘Stan’, sharing the same building sense of tension and emotional catharsis. ‘Rap God’, meanwhile, sees Eminem show the rest of the rap scene exactly how it’s done in a way he hasn’t in years, at one point spitting 97 words within 15 seconds. The flip side of this is that occasionally “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” feels somewhat juvenile, particularly on the Beastie Boys-esque ‘Berzerk’, but the old-style songs offer a nice point of contrast and are often strong.

We mostly get to experience the same, more human side of Marshall Mathers that we’ve seen on his more recent albums, and while these moments are less consistent in terms of quality, they feel more sincere than songs where Eminem’s trying to be the same Slim Shady as a decade ago. ‘Headlights’ shows exactly how far he’s come, apologising to his mother for earlier offenses in what is probably the most mature song he’s created to date, and ‘Survival’ is a pop rock/rap crossover smash as massive as any on “Recovery”. Sadly there are also notable low points, including a Rihanna feature on ‘The Monster’ that comes nowhere near to the quality of past collaboration ‘Love the Way You Lie’.

The album ends on a dark, defiant note with ‘Evil Twin’, and the last few lines are the ones that hit hardest, as Eminem finally faces up to the fact that he and his ultra-violent alter-ego Slim Shady are in fact one and the same. This juxtaposition and subsequent acceptance of both his past and present musical and lyrical styles is an effective summary of “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” as a whole. While it won’t be remembered as a classic in the same way its namesake will, it’s nonetheless an interesting and occasionally great collection of songs forming an intriguing, if inconsistent album.

Recommended Tracks: “Rap God”, “Headlights”

By Michael Bird