Written by Matt Agosta
Finally the Greatest of All Time has return to the rap game and this time he’s not the king, but the Rap God. Marshall Mathers crashed onto the hip-hop scene in 1999 when he released his first album The Slim Shady LP on Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label, and ever since then he’s been on top. Between then and now, Eminem has gone through a plethora of things including releasing many classic hip-hop albums, almost dying from a serious drug addiction, and coming back on top with his Grammy Award winning album Recovery. Now Eminem is a middle aged 41-year-old man who refuses to give into retirement because, quite frankly, his skills on the microphone are sharper than ever. The Marshall Mathers LP 2, the sequel to arguably his best album, is Eminem’s proclamation to the world that he is in fact a Rap God.
Now, I will admit that I am indeed a Stan (Eminem super fan), but even I was a little worried when I saw this new album was to be titled The Marshall Mathers LP 2. It was a huge risk; people’s already high expectations would be even higher. With that being said, did Marshall create an album that is as good as the first? No. But that’s not to say the album is bad either. Eminem himself has said that the MMLP2 is less of a sequel and more of a revisit to that mind state and when listening to the album, his remark makes a lot of sense. The original MMLP was a portrait into Marshall’s life at the time, and this album does the exact same thing. It gives the audience a view of his life currently, while also pushing the limits lyrically.
Speaking of lyrics, there are a lot of them on this album. There are so many bars on this album its more than some rappers have in their entire discography. For me, ferocious and intricate bars are what have always attracted me to hip-hop and I couldn’t be any happier with the quality of lyrics on MMLP2. “Rap God” speaks for itself (six minutes of masterful bars). The track “Legacy” goes into his life when he was growing up, while keeping the same rhyme scheme for the entire song. Every song on the album has quotables all throughout and moments where you want stop the track and rewind just to fully understand what he has just said. Of course we all knew Eminem could rap from the second he dropped his first album, but his years and years of practice has brought him to a top-of-the-game type level, and the debate about who is the best technical rapper of all time is no longer a debate.
Any rapper could get better lyrically over time, but after a decade in the game does Em have anything meaningful left to say? Yes. Marshall has a lot of songs on the album that people could easily relate to. “Love Game” with Kendrick Lamar is all about doing crazy things for love and “Stronger Than I Was,”in which Marshall sings for half the track, is about feeling betrayed by a lover. These songs have a lot of emotion in them, but should we really expect anything different? Eminem wouldn’t be Eminem if he suddenly had nice things to say about the girls he dated. Perhaps the most emotional song on the entire album is “Headlights” featuring Fun.’s lead singer Nate Ruess. Marshall talks all about his current relationship with his mother, how “Cleaning Out My Closet” really destroyed their relationship and how it hurts him now that they are estranged to this day. Em did have reason to be angry with his mom over what she put him and his brother through, but in the end that women is still his mom. Eminem hardly ever gets personal anymore, so it was great to see him go as deep as he does on this song.
Not to be forgotten on this album is the truly great production. One thing that was really refreshing for me as a Hip-Hop fan was Em’s ability to mesh the new school hip-hop feel with the old school. Tracks like his first single “Berzerk”,produced by the great Rick Rubin, brings it back with a really awesome sample, dope rhymes and a hook that should get anyone hyped. Rubin also brought in some crazy samples on the songs “Rhyme Or Reason,” “Love Game,” and “So Far…”. Then there are songs like “Rap God” and the intro “Bad Buy” which have production that sounds a lot more like modern Hip-Hop. The album has a lot of different feels to it but also blends really well together.
Ultimately what people want to know is if this album is a successful sequel to the first MMLP. Yes and No. The MMLP2 is not nearly as good as the first album, but did we really expect that to happen? The first album captured lightening in a bottle with a young white guy from Detroit and became the timeless and classic masterpiece that it is today. Saying Eminem could release something as great as the first MMLP is like saying Jay-Z could some how top Reasonable Doubt or that Kanye West could top College Dropout. It’s just not going to happen. MMLP2 does pay homage to the first album in a wonderful way, and just like the first, we get to have full insight into Marshall Mathers life. His bars are at arguably the highest they have ever been, he continues to progress and experiment with his production and music, and he could still relate to his listeners with the heavily amounts of emotion that is in almost every track. Everybody loves to debate Top 5 and all that, but if you ask me, Eminem is the greatest ever, and this album is another great addition to an already legendary discography.