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Eminem: Marshall Mathers LP 2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Thomas Rodwell   
07 11 2013

Image It's been 13 years since the beautifully crazy Marshall Mathers LP, and at 41 the Detroit rapper has finally released a sequel.

Like anything with his name on, inevitably Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP 2 was hotly-anticipated. His first album since the out-of-character compilation that was 2010′s Recovery, MMLP2 was a make-or-break record for many. Eminem had spoken so much about his addiction problems on tracks like Not Afraid on the last record, but many were losing patience with the man who was previously untouchable as the greatest alive. So what did he serve up in response?

Frankly, a hip hop smoothie of great lyrics, pop culture observations, catchy hooks and unrivalled hilarity and controversy. Only Eminem could invite the hottest artist in the game - Kendrick Lamar - onto his album, and having witnessed him school some of hip hop's modern gods in the last 18 months, match him as he did on Love Game. Like many of the tracks, it takes at least three plays to unravel and appreciate the lyrics from both Mathers and Lamar, though the trademark Eminem satire shines through regardless:

 

I'll say it, you can suck a softball through a straw, used to be my fiance

‘Til you sucked on Wayne, Andre, and Kanye

Lebron, Akon, Jay, Lil Jon, Raekwon, Ma$e

Polow Tha Don, Drake, Dante Ross, James Conway, Kwame..

The album kicks off with Bad Guy, in which Eminem takes us back to the iconic Stan, only this time talks from the point of view of Stan's brother, Matthew. Discussing his revenge plot against Em after his brother's death, Matthew Mitchell (yes, M.M), talks us through the plan as it happens, and it makes for an eerily engaging listen and a powerful way to begin the record.

 

To the masses, the headline track (and what is now his first UK number one in over half a decade) will be The Monster, featuring Rihanna. While Recovery's Love The Way You Lie has become one of the most overplayed songs ever, ultimately The Monster is a better production - and far more than a Rihanna name drop. It's the fourth time the pair have combined, but to Em's credit it's something fresh. It isn't the plastic, auto-tune junk that fills the charts - it's genuinely relatable - however rich Em is there's a definite empathy for his situation:

 

Call me crazy, but I have this vision,

One day that I walk amongst you a regular civilian..

Elsewhere, the already released Berzerk and Rap God make solid features, on the latter of which Mathers spits 97 words in 15 seconds on his way to demonstrating his longevity as an artist; quoting the Lewinsky scandal, planking, Tupac and The Walking Dead. Berzerk, however, isn't a classic and offers little more than an annoyingly-difficult-to-forget hook.

Survival, the soundtrack of the new Call of Duty: Ghosts, is a real anthem that brings on memories of ‘Till I Collapse and hits the Niggas In Paris sweet spot of radio appeal and hip hop brilliance. ‘Wasn't ready to be no millionaire, I was ill-prepared, I was prepared to be ill though, the skill was there', the Lose Yourself rapper begins, before going on to sneer at critics and the pettiness of jibes like Kendrick's infamous Control verse:

Top 5 in this motherfucker, and if I don't make the cut,

What, like I give a fuck,

I'ma light this bitch up like I'm driving a truck to the side of a pump..

It's defiant, it's powerful and it takes no prisoners - a mantra Eminem has made a career out of.

On Headlights we hear an apologetic Marshall, one that says he cringes when he hears 2002′s Cleaning Out My Closet on the radio; in a track centred almost completely around his mother. It's fascinating to hear, and because the mellow Nate Ruess hook makes it truly unlike any other Em track, it squeezes another dimension onto MMLP2.

What reminded me most of the Eminem of old, though, is the fourth track: So Much Better. It's a completely misleading title for a song that sees our protagonist menacingly sing ‘My life would be so much better, if you just dropped dead'. It's dark, it's sublimely produced and right from the first listen it feels like it's been around your whole life. It may not get the airtime of The Monster because it's Em at his sheer cussing, dissing, not-give-a-shit greatest that just isn't fit for radio, but it is without doubt the greatest spawn of MMLP2.

I'm wary of dishing out the ‘Album of the Year' title here, because of how incredibly obvious it is to give it to a man who is now simply untouchable, but it's worth remembering just what a year this has been for hip hop. Kanye, Jay, Drake and Pusha T have all dropped stunning albums since June, but without any exaggeration there really is little that compares to Marshall Mathers LP 2 this side of his own The Eminem Show.

And that, I think, just about says it all. He's done it again.

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