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With ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2,’ Eminem is back, back again

Jimmy Kemper | Monday, November 4, 2013

The new album “The Marshall Mathers LP 2″ is like the long-anticipated sequel to a summer action blockbuster. It’s bigger, has greater production value, and is crazier than the first one, but it definitely is not taking any huge risks or pushing the genre forward, taking Stan’s fans back to exactly where they were 13 years ago.  This is an album seeped in nostalgia, which is stale at times but gives off overwhelmingly positive vibes. 

The album kicks off with “Bad Guy” and dives headfirst into classic, raw Eminem. “Bad Guy” is a very cool throwback to the hit “Stan” from the original Marshall Mathers LP, featuring neat introspections from the viewpoint of the fictitious Stan’s little brother. 

Eminem is absolutely one of the most talented rappers in the industry, and that definitely shows on “MMLP2”. The most notable example of this is in “Rap God,” which is by far one of the best songs Eminem has made within the past decade. The speed and intensity of the rapping on this track is absolutely amazing. The rhymes are delivered at a ferocious pace and ruthlessly strike on anyone he pleases. At one point Slim Shady hits an average of 6.5 words per second, definitely giving his self-proclaimed title of Rap God some credibility. 

The only problem with this album is that a couple of songs are flops, blunders that definitely should not have made the final cut of an overall great album. Eminem’s collaboration with Rihanna in “The Monster” honestly feels like a disappointing rehash of their work together on “Love the Way You Lie,” and brings nothing new to either the pop or hip-hop genres. 

If “The Monster” is ignored, the collaborations on “MMLP2” are overwhelmingly enjoyable. “Headlights,” featuring Nate Reuss of indie band fun., is one of the weirdest, least expected partnerships in music, but it is a successful blending of two dissimilar styles. Eminem raps and Nate sings about Eminem’s rocky relationship with his mother, and Eminem for once actually tones down the anger to apologize to her. A joint effort with Kendrick Lamar would seem like a more predictable choice for Eminem, yet “Love Game” is one of the weirdest tracks he’s produced. The song is bizarre, raunchy and downright disgusting at times, but the connection Eminem and Kendrick share and the fun they have is absolutely contagious. 

The throwback tracks on “MMLP2” are also incredibly fun. “Rhyme or Reason” brilliantly mixes a sample from “Time of the Season” by the Zombies into the witty, crafty lyrics that Eminem is known for. When the song asks “Who’s your daddy?” Slim bluntly responds, “I don’t have one/My mother reproduced like a Komodo dragon.” “Berzerk” is an exciting tribute to old school hip-hop. Produced by Rick Rubin, who worked with the Beastie Boys on their debut album “Licensed to Ill,” it mashes together samples from Billy Squier’s “The Stroke” and the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for your Right” and “The New Style.” On this track, Eminem is arrogant, brash and full of that swagger that has been so desperately missed over his past few releases. It’s a great return to basics that screams to the world that Eminem can still rock all these years later. 

Overall, “The Marshall Mathers LP 2″ is a great throwback album. It does not push the hip-hop genre forward into a new era, but it does not need to, because of the high value of the sheer intensity, brutality and creativity in the album. Em reignites the original MMLP’s savage, emotional brilliance in a whirlwind of stinging raps, wise-cracking rhymes and aggressive rhymes in a way that shows the rap world that he is still king. 

“MMLP2” will be released Nov. 3.