Eminem is the lightening rod of controversy, a lot of black rap fans respect him but don't like what he spits about, a lot of white rap fans hold him up as the beacon of greatness But his last few efforts have been wildly inconsistent. Recovery was better than Relapse but neither one really harkened back to Eminem's initial debut. He still moved many units and managed to burn through radio before falling back and taking another hiatus. In yet another overall 'win' for this year's rap releases, The official release for the Marshall Mathers LP 2 is right around the corner.
The album starts with "Bad Guy" which kind of seems like some normal erratic Eminem raps yet it's seven minutes long, thus there is a twist reminiscent of Em's successful yet controversial songs, yet not as crazy as "Stan". It's cool but seems too much to be the attempt it is to recall earlier glories and remake them. He follows that with "Rhyme or Reason" which has him rapping over another one of the seemingly 'cartoon-like' tracks that he normally uses as the first single. He then segues into another anti-woman tirade on "So Much Better" where he sings on the chorus that he would do so much better without her.
"Survival" fuses rock with hip-hop as Marshall raps about making it through his life especially after dealing with the success he grew to be. He also covers his comeback and critics who have doubted his ability and hunger. On "Legacy" we get another view about Em growing up and the mental state and idea behind the guy who came out writing all of those crazy rhymes. While those were what came out, this song gets more in depth about the process behind creating them, sort of like a third person view over a young Marshall Mathers. The lead single is "Berzerk" a Beastie Boys style rap song that is all over TV and Radio. The second single features Rihana who was also on the mega-hit "the Way You Lie" and is called "Monster". This is about Em talking about how he climbed again. Basically it's a more polished take on 'Legacy'.
Skylar Grey sings on "Assholee" while Em raps about the impact his critics had on him and his career by talking about his lyrics and attitude. "Brainless" is a sort of shot at his mother telling him if he had a brain he'd be dangerous and the irony from that is looking at his career and life success. For some odd reason, Em is singing on "Stronger than I was" and he has done it before but this was skippable. "So Far..." is a unique little silly song that goes back to him coming so far but not really leaving Detroit. This song has some of the best lyrics on the album. Kendrick Lamar gets to join in on the madness and have some fun on "Love Game" about a cheating woman and if you like lyrics and exotic descriptions most rappers aren't capable of then this is the song for you. You could listen to this 15-20 times and find some new nuggets each and every time.
"Headlights" with Nate Ruess is about Em's mother, but not killing her or anything, but a more introspective and remorseful song about their lack of a relationship. "Evil Twin" is more straight bars in the guise of speaking to another Eminem who brings out the evil part of Em. However, by far the standout song on the album is "Rap God" which is 6 minutes of fury and bars in all different flows just to show anyone who doubted Marshall's abilities taht at any point with desire and motivation he can destroy anything.
Overall, Em has settled in just like Jay-z has. At this point in their careers they struggle to create enough compelling content to get an entire worthwhile album. One of the popular ideas is to talk about fame and how it has affected them. It's cool but not something that gets the fans hearts pumping. Now Em does drop some sharp bars on songs other than Rap God but as usual the beat selection and somewhat silly hooks take away from the songs and give the critics fuel to downgrade Em's place in hip-hop. The album has some hate them or love them moments and it is decent, but it's no Marshall Mathers LP.
Rating : 3/5