Review Summary: Shady's back, back again, and perhaps for the last time ever.
I once told a friend of mine that had Eminem been violently murdered after the release of the Eminem Show, he would be an even bigger legend than 2pac himself. Heck, even now it’s debatable. In 2002, his discography was effectively flawless. As it is, however, it’s no secret that he went on to release a pair of stinkers that took a toll on his credibility before finally returning to form on 2010’s Recovery.
Likewise, when Eminem announced the title of his new album, his critics were either howling in laughter or simply frowned and let out a sigh. How could he name the album after his biggest classic album ever? The Marshall Mathers LP was just that, Marshall unplugged, vulnerable and raw. Let’s face it, MMLP2 never had the slightest chance to compare. Just like the MMLP was the autobiography of Eminem in 2002, however, so is MMLP2 the autobiography of him today. It is sufficiently different from Recovery and even features several songs good enough to be on the original MMLP.
The beats on the album range from stellar to poor. Legacy is easily the most addictive song, and even rivals some songs on MMLP. Eminem’s storytelling abilities are in top form, and for once the female chorus doesn’t piss you off. In fact, it’s quite reminiscent of Stan with Dido’s soothing vocals. Now, I have to stress that there are many little things on the album that you’ll miss if you don’t pay attention. Album opener Bad Guy is a 7-minute epic that builds and builds, showcasing Em’s strong flow. It’s essentially Stan part two. Stan’s little brother is out to get Eminem. He wants revenge on him for all the women and homosexuals he’s insulted. The ominous beat change towards the end of the song makes it an instant classic.
At first you think the skits are back, too. The very second track, is a sequel to the robbery scene we heard on Criminal, with Eminem shooting an innocent woman. There’s police sirens, and finally Eminem is shot and killed. This turns out to be the only skit on the entire album. This is Eminem’s past catching up to him. In the final track, Evil Twin, Eminem also seems to finally accept responsibility for all his wicked rhymes. He blames his alter ego, Slim Shady, no longer. In his own words: “we’re the same. Bitch”.
Rap God is self-explanatory, but suffers from a rather mediocre beat. Stronger Than I Was and Survival are definitely the worst tunes, but luckily they’re the only ones you could even call poor in the first place. Survival features a generic, pompous female chorus that just screams Recovery and generally has little substance. Even so, it should grow on you, if just a little bit. Stronger Than I was, however, is the King Turd on this thing. Think Haeley’s Song, only not good at all. Eminem sings, and he can’t. In his defense, I guess the song Is what you would call ‘real’, and I may end up liking it much more than I do now. You should definitely not expect to feel it the first time though.
As the album is drawing to a close, the listener is in for a definite shocker. On Headlights, one of the best songs Eminem has made in years, he does the unthinkable - he apologizes to his mother. Oh, you bet your ass that’s right. Throughout his career, Debbie Mathers, his own mother, has been his arch nemesis. As much as he may have hated Kim and Mariah, it was obvious his mother had caused him the most pain. He wished for her death all the time, and on the Eminem Show even claimed she would die alone, without even Haeley showing up for her funeral. And yet, it appears Marshall finally realized she’s getting older, and her life’s coming to an end. Marshall can’t bring himself to bag on her. Not after all these years.
Now, as good of a song as Headlights is, it makes me really depressed listening to it. Father Time takes a toll on us all, that’s a given, but what the *** kind of world are we living in in which Eminem doesn’t hate his mother anymore? Listening to Eminem’s early albums can make anyone feel like they’re 15 years old, rebelling against their parents and society by drinking beer with your buddies and flipping the police the bird. On MMLP2, you really don’t get that, although it’s not a bad thing by any means. What it means, though, is that it gives you case of the feels. Marshall’s matured, and that can’t help but show. Luckily he still has a little energy occasionally to bag on bitches, most notably on So Much Better and Love Game.
This is an album that, if you wanted to, you could easily criticize and rip to pieces for the title alone. It’s not better than the Marshall Mathers LP, and it never even had a chance. What it is, however, is another strong showing by Eminem, and that’s something that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It opens and ends well, and the stinkers are few. There are also numerous signs that it could be Shady’s last hurrah. If that is indeed the case, it was a definitely a good ride.