Eminem fans were treated to an early Halloween surprise on Oct. 29 when Slim Shady’s newest album, ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2′, leaked six days before its official release date. Packed full of introspective lyrics, energetic collaborations, and both hip-hop and classic rock throwbacks, ‘MMLP2′ proves that Em’s legacy is still as powerful as ever.
It’s been over 13 years since Eminem, 41, released his Grammy Award winning standout album The Marshall Mathers LP. Packed with a mix of hits including “The Real Slim Shady” and — arguably Em’s most famous hit — “Stan,” MMLP has long since earned its spot in the Eminem canon as one of the greats. So naturally, calling an album The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is going to lead to a lot of hype and pressure for the tow-headed star. Luckily, HollywoodLife can confirm that MMLP2 — a true return to form for the megastar — more than delivers.
Eminem’s ‘MMLP2′: Slim Shady Ponders His Own Legacy
Leave it to Em to tackle serious issues like death, demons, misogyny, and one’s own legacy on this earth and actually make them fun. The album’s first track, the seven minute-plus “Bad Guy,” quickly sets up the more serious — and in some cases, nihilistic — themes in MMLP2, while also establishing an old school element with a throwback to “Stan.” It’s a moody, introspective track that quickly lets us know that MMLP2 isn’t only about the berzerk.
In one of the album’s best offerings, the Skylar Grey collaboration “A**hole,” our favorite rap antihero comes to the conclusion that he is, in fact, a major a**hole. Luckily, Skylar’s excellent hook: “Everybody knows that you’re just an a**hole,” as well as the absolutely sick drum beats, will help you forgive the a**hole-ish lyrics and just enjoy the ride.
Another standout is “So Much Better,” though feminists might want to skip this one since lyrics like “I hate b**ches all the same” and “my life will be so much better if you drop dead” are reminiscent of an old, great, similarly offensive track from the original MMLP, “Kill You.”
The latest single from the album, the Rihanna reunion “The Monster”, proves that Eminem isn’t the only one embracing his dark side — just like in “Love the Way You Lie,” the two artists bond over their own appetites for destruction. “The Monster” may not be as strong a single as their last outing, but it’s still an insanely catchy dance track that should instantly perk up any long commute.
‘MMLP2′: Totally Berzerk Old-School Throwbacks
MMLP2‘s first single “Berzerk”, which perfectly samples Billy Squier’s “The Stroke” as well as the Beastie Boys’ “The New Style” and “Fight For Your Right,” was a perfect selection to introduce an album that frequently celebrates old school rap and hip-hop. It makes me feel like I’m back in New Jersey at a 2001 middle school dance, and I mean this in the best possible way. Good luck trying not to twerk in your office chair during this one.
“Berzerk” aside, MMLP2′s best sampling is found in the moody, effective “Rhyme or Reason”, where Eminem perfectly uses The Zombies’ “Time of the Season” and riffs in a Cookie Monster voice. It’s a nihilistic, wave your middle finger in the air type of jam, as well as a total must-listen.
“So Far” also borrows from the days of music past — “The Real Slim Shady” itself makes an appearance — and features some remarkably insane, comedic lyrics that fully triumph in the album’s strongest offering, “Rap God.” It’s hard to fully describe the speed-rapping lyrical acrobatics achieved in “Rap God,” just know that next time you’re out at a bar, every single drunk person in attendance will try their best to slur the words, “Lose Yourself” style.
The Kendrick Lamar cut “Love Game” is also triumphant, due to both its dark, insane lyrics and the pretty, melodic ’50s throwback beats that back them. The album’s final track, “Evil Twin” is also a success — and not only because it finds Eminem fully embracing his alter-ego, contemplating why ‘NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys are no longer around for him to make fun of. (At least he has Drake as a consolation prize.)
‘MMLP2′: Where it falls flat
Then there’s “Legacy,” “Stronger Than I Was,” and “Brainless,” three tracks that feature a serious Slim questioning his own, well, legacy. The former features a solid hook from Polina that sets it apart from the latter two, which are comparably skippable given the high quality of the rest of the album. Em gets similarly serious later on in “Headlights,” a Nate Reuss collaboration that finds the rapper finally forgiving his much-maligned mother.
Finally, the Call of Duty rock-anthem “Survival” is just a bit too Limp Bizkit-y for my taste, but then again, I’m not exactly in the Call of Duty demographic.
What do you think, HollywoodLifers? Listen to the album and let us know your thoughts!
— Shaunna Murphy