Eminem – Marshall Mathers LP II: The Extended Review

December 5, 2013 1:42 pm

Marshall Mathers LP, the one that became a classic and represented what the hip-hop / rap industry should’ve been. The genre returned to the hood, once Eminem picked up the mic. Released in 2000, MMLP introduced content that was overwhelming with controversy. It showcased conflicts conjured from his personal life pieced together with current affairs, and pop culture relevant to the time. Brought to his attention with such annoyance, thoughts of murder, violence, and views of sexuality and sexual orientation weren’t to be missed. The LP attracted attention to an obsessive extent. Eminem was no longer considered a one hit wonder. No, he built a solid reputation for himself when he first introduced one of his three personas ‘Slim Shady’ in 1999. Slim Shady was, and still is Marshall Mathers Lp2considered to be the only white boy in the game to have the balls to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants, to whomever he wants. Possessed with this “I don’t give a crap!” mentality beautifully blended with carelessness concerning what people said or thought about him as an artist and an individual. They were just his opinions, and no one had the authority to change them.  Slim Shady unleashed an anger that made him untouchable. The flare he once had makes another appearance with this sequel; its concept is an old, but new approach at the same time. It’s old because the topics and themes expressed throughout the album still manage to sustain the initial characteristics of Slim Shady. On the other hand, it’s also brand new, as his lyrical flow and production gradually changes. With Dre and Rick Rubin on board as producers, the dynamic duo delivers the ultimate performance. Old school hip-hop comes into play as Mathers LP2 unfolds. His last studio record, Recovery in 2010 stood as proof for most fans that, traces of his rage were slowly coming back. For the rest however, it just wasn’t enough!

There’s a common factor manifested between the first release and the sequel, and that is, the dominant presence of his alter ego Slim Shady. An identical pattern forms as a familiar mind-set starts to emerge throughout the Mathers LP 2. Yet, the continuation comes with a bonus that some fans may find off-putting and go onto experience a “WTF” moment. That alone, may be enough to convince doubters the real Slim Shady died soon after the release of The Eminem Show in 2002. Eminem provided the groundwork to imply the death of Slim Shady with his release of Encore in 2004. In MMLP2, he cleverly sits each verse next to each other in perfect alignment.  21 tracks are sewn together to form MMLP II as the white rapper invites listeners to retrace his steps and reminisce through his troublesome past and once again, face his demons head on.

The opening track ‘Bad Guy’ is a promising start. It’s bombarded with mind-blowing metaphors that relinquish the persona that earned him his fame and credibility. The Real Slim Shady is back, only this time with a vengeance. If this were an over analysed review, I Eminem Sao Paulo perfomancewould go as far to suggest ‘Bad Guy’ describes the rapper’s connection with his high school sweetheart and ex-wife is broken. We, as his audience, start to suspect Eminem’s rage. It’s a track that leads into the follow-up of his story ‘Stan’ back from the first MMLP. Amplifying the compelling history, and overwhelming emotions. The first impression we get is one that portrays a love hate relationship, and yet, this connection is fragmented, loosely tied, and tainted for eternity. It seems as though the opening track is an aftermath of the ‘Kim’ song coming from his first edition of Marshall Mathers LP. The song portrays violent outburst of rage that evolve from infidelity and betrayal. Marshall’s emotions are so overpowering; it triggers an unpredictable nature. As for his ex wife however, she’s left to face the fear of the unknown. With lyrics like these, it’s evident Shady’s philosophy still applies. “My words are weapons!” His flow is just as empowering and poetic as it was 10 years ago. All of this is combined with a head-bobbing beat.

‘Rhyme or Reason’ takes its 3rd place on the track list, and it’s a whole new kettle of fish altogether. This is probably the first time Eminem addresses his relationship with his deadbeat father, a man who abandoned him when he was a baby. The song concentrates on the broken relationship by running through his life experiences. Years of pain, resentment, and struggles are slowly lifted, as each verse and chorus come into play. There’s no longer an overbearing weight sitting on Em’s shoulders. The beat changes the tone, only slightly. Is this deliberate? Could it be seen as a connotation for the rapper’s cold and careless attitude towards his father?  Maybe. Take a second to listen to the beat Eminemaccompanied with ‘Rhyme or Reason’. This is where the transition begins, and the new blends in with the old. Old-school hip-hop with a crossover to 80s rock for added seasoning. Seems like Rick Rubin’s area of expertise, if you ask me!  MMLP2 has such a strong emphasis on Slim Shady’s return. It’s as if Shady paid extra attention with this one. A collection of tracks carefully crafted to reunite his fans with the Real Slim Shady. (No pun intended!) Out of the 21 songs featured in the deluxe edition only two, in my opinion, disappoint. ‘Berzerk’ and ‘Survival’. Out of the disappointing two, ‘Berzerk’ disturbed me the most. Yet, I feel ‘Survival’ is a track that fails to add anything extra to the album. That being said, the rapper’s verses still sustain the quality, but the track overall feels unnecessary.  Anyway, let’s go back to being ‘Berzerk’. Of course, this title was the first single released from this album. It was unveiled alongside a Beats by Dre ad campaign. The sheer disappointment I felt, as my ears tuned in. “What?! This can’t be Em, WTF is he doing??” I said to myself. Then, it occurred to me, Em always does this! This is a pattern that regenerates “It’s what I call a ‘Radio track!” A song that is designed to attract audiences with a limited interest in hip-hop / rap genre. It all started with “My Name Is” from the Slim Shady LP, The Real Slim Shady from the first MMLP, Without Me an Eminem Show single, and so on.  That being said, the video associated with this record served it justice. Embedded with a strong representation of old school hip-hop, it reminded me of hip-hop / rap in the 80’s. A boom box in hand, jamming till your heart’s content and loving every second of it. The video features executive producer Rick Rubin. This is a representation of the strong influence as well as impact Rubin has on the record. I have to say, it’s a very successful collaboration. ‘Rap God’ is the one that brought it all back for me. I was excited to see that same energy again. A song bombarded with so many words, it makes your head spin. You can’t help but assume the rapper demolished the dictionary with this one. A canvas completely covered with colourful metaphors accompanied by supersonic  lyrical flow and a beat that seems to deliver on a particular technique. Other titles that caught my attention were ‘Stronger than I Was’, ‘Brainless’, ‘Headlights’, and of course, the bonus tracks, ‘Baby’ and ‘Grandhog Day’.

Again, this is just my opinion, but “Stronger than I Was” seemed to be a reflection upon Halie’s song, taken from the Eminem Show

Eminem MMLp2 Cover Art, some years ago. However, I’m partially convinced Eminem is expressing the thoughts of his former wife in this song, looking at their relationship through her eyes. Who knows? Bygones are bygones. Differences are settled with ‘Headlights’. An emotional approach towards his struggles and a heart-warming response to a song his Mother, Debbie Mathers, released, entitled ‘Dear Marshall’. ‘Dear Marshall’ explains how and why her relationship with her son is so bitter. Headlights display moments of regret and remorse for his actions towards her. It’s as if an understanding has developed; we no longer see an overpowering clash between Mother and son. It’s one that’s overdue. Fans that have stood by him can see Em slowly overcome his troubles, they can recognise and relate. It’s something that has developed and become overwhelming as life goes on.

An inconsistent pattern isn’t in existence. Shady still embarks and thrives on using other people’s weaknesses to play on his strengths. He made a name for himself by acknowledging what he thought, and still thinks is wrong with the industry he pays contributes to. This is still evident with MMLP2 as he makes witty remarks to Lady Gaga, Jessica Alba, Jessica Simpson and Justin Bieber. However, this isn’t the strongest contender of his latest release. The strongest contender is his own life, his reality. The content is bulletproof; songs like ‘Bad Guy’, ‘Rhyme Or Reason’, ‘So Much Better,’ ‘Evil Twin,’ ‘Rap God’, ‘Brainless’, ‘Headlights’, and finally ‘Grandhog Day’ are a strong indication for the long-awaited return “for some” of the Real Slim Shady.

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  • Kwaku Osei-Afrifa

    This album, meh. Bad Guy drops and I’m thinking that this album will be a return to form but there are too many of the satirical pop songs on here that don’t have the same pull that “Drug Ballad” has, which to me, if you’re going to make a sequel to MMLP, you need to be able to do again. I was very disappointed.

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