Music review:The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is “so much better”


Joe Callagy, Writer

“I’m sick of just gettin’ pushed, it’s ridiculous/I look like a freakin’ wuss, a p***y/This kid just took my stick of licorice/And threw my sticker books in a pricker bush/I wanna kick his tush, but I was six and shook/This f***er was twelve and was six foot, with a vicious hook.”

This excerpt from “Brainless” is a perfect example of the lyrical technique that is strewn throughout Eminem’s newest project. He takes multi-syllabic rhyming to another level and reminds the world – once again – that he is one of, if not the, most advanced and complex technical rappers in the game. His metaphors are insane, and as a wordsmith and player of pronunciation, it is tough to find him any competition.

A quick run-through of this roughly 80 minute album and you will find everything from fast-paced cockiness and pop-culture insults like those that characterized his early work, a deep and introspective analyses of his past and how he got where he is today.

Through it all, his lyrics and wordplay shine like the sun, and sometimes it seems like he is just showing off. My favorite instance of this is on “Love Game,” (ft. Kendrick Lamar) when he spits about the various celebrities who received “favors” from his ex: “used to be my fiancé, ‘til you s***ed Wayne, Andre, and Kanye/Lebron, Akon, Jay, lil Jon, Raekwon, Ma$e/Polo the Don, Dre, Dante Ross, James Conway, Kwame!”

Eminem also litters a bunch of football references throughout MMLP2 (from Detroit, a devoted Lions fan.) “Me against the world, so what/I’m Brian Dawkins versus the whole 0-16 Lions offense/So bring on the Giants, Falcons, and Miami Dolphins” (Legacy) and “Probably end up on top of ‘em, stomping ‘em like Ndamukong/I’m Russian like a Ukrainian LaDainian Tomlinson” (Groundhog Day).

Content-wise, this album is not covering any new ground for Eminem, which has been a platform that some critics have stood on. He raps about his dysfunctional childhood, his dislike of media attention and paparazzi and the constant internal battles that have been raging inside his own head since the beginning of his rapping career. Despite rapping about arguably the same stuff for almost fifteen years, his music is in no way redundant. There is no trouble listening to and enjoying each song.

Homophobia and anti-feminism. These are words that have been talked about often when it comes to deciphering the meaning of Eminem’s raps. He has caught slack for multiple uses of “gay” and “f*g” on “Rap God,” and multiple songs on the album seem to show physical and verbal abuse of women as a problem-solving mechanism. Although these are real problems in society, we should not take anything away from this album because of a few morally questionable references. Here’s why:

Having publicly stated multiple times that he has no problems with homosexuals and does not believe that women are second-class citizens, he says he associates with these words and concepts because they were popular rap-battle topics in the Detroit underground scene when he first started to make some noise in the mid-90’s. He has also expressed, both in public statements and in songs, that he did not choose to have this level of fame and influence thrust upon him, and that he started to rap to escape from his personal troubles. He did it for him, not in an effort to better society, not to be politically correct. The fact that critics are losing sight of an album that is an otherwise masterful display of emotion and the beauty of the English language because the 41-year-old used “the other f-word” too many times is absolutely ridiculous.

On a scale of one to ten, MMLP2, it would probably be a 9.5. There are a few hiccups about the format of some of his hooks and the instrumentals for “Berzerk” and “Survival.” He could have done better with just a little less. As a “sequel” to the original 2000 Marshall Mathers LP, this does a great job of summing up his life, his journey, and all the difficulties he faced in finding rap as his outlet to success.

There is also some significant “growing-up” that Eminem shows on this album. In “Headlights,” which, by the way, features an amazing hook and bridge from F.U.N’s Nate Ruess, Eminem apologizes to his mother and states that despite their uncorrectable differences and the hatred he had for her, he still loves her. Of the song “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” (2002, The Eminem Show) he raps: “But I’m sorry mama for Cleanin’ Out My Closet…Now I know it’s not your fault, and I’m not making jokes/That song I no longer play at shows and I cringe every time its on the radio.”

“Bad Guy.” Listen to that song, if nothing else, from this album. I could write an entire article about this song alone, but the only way to do it justice is to sit down with no other distractions and listen. It is a sequel to MMLP’s “Stan,” written from the perspective of Matthew, the little brother of a man who drunkenly drove his car off a bridge, killing himself and his pregnant girlfriend, because Slim Shady hadn’t returned his letters or calls. It is chilling to say the least. Eminem also indirectly references some possible pangs of guilt that he feels for his lyrics and the negative effects they seem to have on many people, simultaneously apologizing because it is the only way he knows to successfully rap. As a perfect intro song for the album, he concludes: “Tap into thoughts/Blacker and darker than anything imaginable/Here goes a wild stab in the dark/As we pick up where the last Mathers left off.”

In conclusion, MMLP2 is a fantastic listen. Non-Eminem fans and non-rap fans alike should at least appreciate the effort that he puts into making every line resonate with the last and every verse that was made into its own story. The fantastic lyricism and mind-blowing syllabic wordplay make this album what it is. For the critics out there, remember that Eminem, and all producers of music, have no responsibility for the actions and opinions of those who listen. If you are offended, you can simply turn it off.

Joe Callagy can be contacted at: [email protected]

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