Review Summary: Timingfully writing a Marshall Mathers LP, mostly because it's a longly overdue review I've been meaning to write, and I can't stand the fact it's back on the Billbaord 200 already.
Timingfully and Longly are not even words.
To me, rap has always been an important genre of music to remember. There's a certain uniqueness to the genre: whether it's the sick rhymes and vocabulary, or the number of aspiring artists who are focused solely on said genre, or maybe because it just sucks some serious dick nowadays, but I always have found the genre more interesting than rock and roll, for a strange reason. If there's an album that pleases the public universally, whether they like the genre or not, it's therefore considered the greatest of all time. The Beatles' Abbey Road is a good example of this. Radiohead's OK Computer was also an important step forward. When it comes to rap, it seems that said feats could only be accomplished with albums like Nas's Illmated, 2pac's 2pacalypse Now, and Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP.
Summarizing how massive The MM LP was when it was first released is a lot more difficult than describing it. It broke all sales records of any solo album of all time, and left an intergalatical impact that inspired current artists like Jay-Z and Lil' Wayne. It was the absolute shining point in Eminem's career, and one of the glorifying moments in all of rap history, to some. It was fearlessly explicit and superbly controversial, being brought under fire by his ex-girlfriend, mother, and public. It showed a different side of Eminem that was massively different from his Nas / AZ imitations in Infinite, and the schizophrenic, humorous Slim Shady persona that famously popped up in the Slim Shady EP and LP. It brought heavy fire to parents, and millions of DJs around the world could rarely even play this album on the radio due to the explicit nature, but Em's underground reputation, and critical reputation benefited from the breakthroughs that the MM LP made, not to mention skyrocketing his fan reputation.
In all honesty, a tad overrated for some of stuff the album offers.
Here's some of the problems that the MM LP features, the downfalls to an otherwise near-flawless album. First of all, the flow in some of these songs gets really crummy. There's a twisted amount of humor featured that speaks to you through telekinesis, and through that, you realize that it gets old real fast. In songs like "Drug Ballad", there's an annoying amount of repetitive rhymes. They use a joke / atmosphere, and sometimes beat it to death. Take the lead single, "The Real Slim Shady", for example, barely follows an actual story, and using cheesy keyboard melodies and poppy flow, with random jokes against stars, like Christiana Aguilera, Fred Durst, and Carson Daily giving blowjobs. There's humor that's funny for maybe the first verse, and feels far too familiar to annoying singles like "My Name Is".
And Eminem somehow manages to make absolute embarrassments out of otherwise professional rap artists. He makes a fool out of the whole D12 cast in the six-verse long "Under The Influence", a track that would of been just fine with Eminem himself. "Amityville" makes Bizzare sound more like a really old Lil' Wayne, and the graffiti, scratchy-Detroit soundtrack of "Remember Me"" is ***ed over by RBX and Sticky Fingaz, who not only manage to sound like retards in their verses, but showcase that the songwriting could of been written better by 11-year-olds. Granted, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit & Nate Dogg in "B*tch Please II" are fairly good along with the infamous rap artists, but it's an otherwise disappointment. (At least Rihanna isn't singing choruses in MM LP) The worse part is that Eminem's horribly out-rapped by each one, despite having the only good lines. Maybe the album would do a lot better without D12.
And this album is treated more like a god in music. Basically, if you haven't heard of this album yet, you're an inferior life form, and you're utterly useless, an uncool failure to life. The album begins on a negative note, with the annoyingly repetitive, harshly misogynic "Kill You", an otherwise humiliation to the album. And the album would of been absolutely fine without tracks 12-14. "Amityville" is annoying from the first verse and the bad mixing sample of "Sorcerer of Isis" from the Power of Zeus, not to mention an unbearable verse by Bizzare himself. The Ken Kaniff skit an absolute excuse to humanity, and whoever made the idea for that skit really needs to be tortured by Jack Bauer. There are just some points where I ponder about the popularity of this album.
Thankfully, despite some near-deafening songs and questionable humor throughout the album, it is the greatest rap attempt ever since Nas's Illmated, or Notorious B.I.G.'s Life after Death. Eminem is a talented rap artist, there's no doubt about that. And some of his rhymes are absolutely killer. In tracks like "I'm Back", there's a certain amount of sucker punch lying underground.
I used to give a - ***, now I could give a *** less
What do I think of suc-cess" It sucks, too much press I'm stressed
Too much stares two breasts, too upset
There's some interesting messages he sends out, like "Who Knew"'s otherworldly beat to Eminem's look at hypocrisy and parental hate being dished out to him, "The Way I Am"'s gothic melody over haunting church-like bell rings and a frighteningly dark backing rhythm with Eminem's most intense "*** you all" to the world. "Stan" is one of the most important tracks on this album, because it shows Eminem's secretly amazing power in writing, over lightning sound effects and an unforgiving piano bar over Dido's sampled chorus, telling the epic tale of an obsessive fan who strives for his hero's attention.
When all's said and done, the title track "Marshall Mathers" is otherwise the most important track on this album, mostly because it shows an entirely different side of Eminem throughout the album: not the angry, tipped-over Eminem featured in "The Way I Am", the homicidal side of him over saddening violin and schizophrenic beats in "Kim", but a confessional, storytelling side of him, over a hallow acoustic guitar line, with some ponderous comebacks to late events in recent years, such as the killing of Tupac, his reaction to his mother's actions. It's ironic, though, no matter how many people I know who are annoyed by the album, they can't help but find this song good. It evens features a guitar solo at the end (not sure if it's sampled or not, but...). In a twisted way, it's Eminem's best song on the album, and one of the best of his career.
And just how boundary-breaking the MM LP was is alone worth checking out the album. Never before had anyone, in the history of music, created a story like "Kim", telling a story of a screeching Eminem thrashing at his ex, Kim, killing her stepson / husband, taking her for a drive, and slicing her throat without any remorse. But the chorus tells otherwise, in a spooky, unforgiving, but pleading tone:
So long, bitch you did me so wrong
I don't wanna go on
Living in this world without you
It's wicked stuff, for certain. Think "Just The Two of Us" and "'97 Bonnie and Clyde", but more haunting and more violently vivid. Another good example is "Stan". Telling the entire story in letter, while still maintaining a great rhythm throughout four verses shows that Eminem is at his best here. "The Way I Am"'s lyrical rain and absolute nuclear explosion of anger towards people who doubt him (which has been annoyingly copied in other songs of his, never as good as this). The perspective of his hometown, Detroit, in "Amityville", I could go on.
In some ways, The Marshall Mathers LP is so concept-changing, so cataclysmic and rule-defying, that I can't see any way anybody could hate it. In other ways, though, it's a majorly overrated album that's been carried on far too long for its own good. After this album, some real ambitions and high expectations were set for his later albums. It created Eminem into the rap messiah that he is quoted as today. And in some ways, I agree. The Marshall Mathers LP is alone checking out just to see how his almost neverending amount of praise and fans came storming in. Highly recommended.
The Way I Am