Review Summary: Is this the Eminem that everyone has been dying to hear for several years?
An introduction isn’t really needed for Eminem. He’s easily one of the most important rappers in the last 20 years. After releasing four high quality albums and taking over the world, he experienced a sharp decline with the releases of the disappointments known as Encore
. 2010’s Recovery
was more or less a giant apology to fans for the previous two records. It featured some quality material, and saw Eminem explore some poppier territories, but it still wasn’t the return to form everyone was clamoring for. Come 2013, Eminem announced the release of The Marshall Mathers LP 2
, which incited mixed reactions from fans all over the map. Is this the Eminem that everyone has been dying to hear for several years?
Well, most of the time the answer to that question is yes. Mathers has managed to put out his best material since The Eminem Show
. His lyrical adrenaline is back, and it’s consistent as ever. The production is also much more varied and is way less synth-reliant than the work on Recovery
. Guest spots are used sparingly and help the album for the most part. Unfortunately, some bad song writing choices will baffle the listeners and stop this from being the classic it had the potential to become.
Eminem kicks off The Marshall Mathers LP 2
quite confidently. Once “Bad Guy” starts playing, you’ll hear a rejuvenated emcee laying down his best verses in years, with eerie accompaniment that fits incredibly well. The female-led hook is also incredibly catchy. With all these ingredients “Bad Guy” definitely justifies its seven minute runtime. After a brief skit that serves as a throwback to the original MMLP, “Rhyme or Reason” continues Em’s confident lyrical wildfire despite having a pretty grating chorus. “Survival” is another strong track with a “rock” vibe and a female-sung hook similar to Recovery
’s “Won’t Back Down”. It’d be hard to stop talking about his flow on this album without bringing up “Rap God”. While being an insanely impressive track, it’s really just a heartless 6 minute speed rap run with a weak beat. Really, what were they thinking
with that kick drum?
Luckily, the production is usually high quality and covers a lot of different territory. Rick Rubin mostly had a positive influence on this album. Lead single “Berzerk” sounds like a track that wouldn’t be out of place on a Beastie Boys album, it’s a shame Eminem wasn’t able to step it up some more on this track as well instead of being silly and calling out the Kardashians (really?), it’s one of the weakest songs on his part. Other Rubin-produced cuts “So Far…” (which has a very brief nod to “The Real Slim Shady”) and “Love Game” work with classic rock, which keeps things fresh near the end of the record. Eminem also performs pretty well in this element that we haven’t really seen him work with before. Kendrick Lamar is featured in “Love Game” and manages to shape a good song into an awesome one.
Sadly, the record is not without its faults. There are some real duds on The Marshall Mathers LP 2
. “Stronger Than I Was” shows us why Mathers should simply stick to rapping and stop trying to sing his own hooks. More lame Mathers-sung hooks appear in “Brainless” and “Berzerk”, really taking away from songs that had the potential to be great. “The Monster” isn’t a bad song, but seems like a B-side from Recovery
with its phoned-in Rihanna chorus and its boring synth-heavy instrumental. “So Much Better” is probably the worst offender of the bunch, hearing multiple Marshalls croon over the piano will make the listener start bleeding profusely from their ears, the unfunny immaturity that plagues the lyrics doesn’t help either.
Is The Marshall Mathers LP 2
the classic that hardcore fans have been begging for? Not quite. However, we have been graced with a slew of incredibly solid tracks that not a lot of people were expecting from the once washed-up emcee. It’s unclear whether he’ll even be releasing more material in the coming years. If The Marshall Mathers LP 2
is Em throwing in the towel, it would be a great note to end on.