Review Summary: Will the real Marshall Mathers please stand up?
Sometimes, there comes along a record that destroys all boundaries and brings everyone together, regardless of their tastes. The Marshall Mathers LP is one of those albums. With the release of his second mainstream (third technically) album, Eminem had gone from underground favourite to world conquering star. His image and edge attracted a white audience to a prominently black genre, introducing millions to a genre they would usually have discarded. Even more gruesome, offensive and degenerate than The Slim Shady LP, it’s one of the only albums in recent memory to cause such a wide uproar and still go Diamond. It’s a horrific, ugly record. But a god damn masterpiece
From the minimalist transgressive opener ‘Kill You’, Eminem sets out to establish his feelings towards everyone and everything in his path. It’s a chilling, wretched start to one of the most notorious records of all time. Eminem is on top lyrical game, from the haunting murder ballad of ‘Stan’, a bass heavy trip hop song about the dangers of obsessive fans. The violently uncomfortable and personal ‘Kim’ layers a screeching rock track behind a non human sounding Eminem as he recounts an audio drama (more of an audio horror) of murdering his estranged ex wife. It’s disgusting, vile and completely inexcusable, but Em uses this track to present the deepest depths of his depraved mind. It’s a perfect example of emotional bloodletting, and he knows this. Its not meant to be glamorous and cool. It’s musical therapy of the darkest kind. Even on the “lighter” tracks like ‘The Real Slim Shady’ and ‘Drug Ballad’, Em still manages to provoke and outrage with eyebrow raising wordplay set to some of the finest production on any rap record.
The wide range of collaborators that grace the album deliver extremely mesmerising verses, but they never outshine the man himself. The throat shredding rage of ‘Remember Me?’ Has Sticky Fingaz nearly steal the show with a vicious freestyle and Bizarre’s completely vile verse on ‘Amityville’ is so mind warpingly obscene, it very nearly takes the cake. Even on the wild Posse cut ‘Bitch Please II’ which features producer Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg Xzbit and the late Nate Dogg which has the group lay down a set of filthy and boastful verses and still, with all the talent on the song, they never manage to overthrow Em. The man was the king of the world at the time, and even on the “***-you-middle-fingers-in-the-air” anthem ‘The Way I Am’ , he still nails out sheer rage and hatred for everything, even his fans. Hell, even on the retrospective and appropriately named ‘Marshall Mathers’, he still takes time to mock and heavily insult other horrorcore stars Insane Clown Posse and even his estranged mother’s lawyer (She also gets several brutal put downs through the LP) And when the smoke settles, the final track ‘Criminal’ provides the explanation and the punchline:
‘A lot of people ask me stupid ***in' questions/
A lot of people think that what I say on a record/
Or what I talk about on a record
/That I actually do in real life or that I believe in it
/Or if I say that I wanna kill somebody/
That I'm actually gonna do it or that I believe in it
/Well, ***, if you believe that, then I'll kill you
/You know why? ‘Cause I'm a criminal’
You fell for the bait. The terrified mothers and politicians of America, saying that he is corrupting the youth of America only helped fuel the fires. And that fire was burned out a disc and went Diamond. A violent, aggressive horrorcore masterpiece with some of the finest lyrical display in debatably all of music. And he still didn’t give a ***.
The Real Slim Shady