By Arman Asemani
Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” is the newest installment in the icon’s head-turning, stomach-twisting, eye-opening and mind-blowing discography. In MMLP2, Eminem looks to renew, redeem, rouse and most surprisingly repent.
The album’s first single, “Berzerk,” dials back the clock of hip-hop with a sample of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right” and renews a style so retro most oblivious listeners might assume Eminem created the flow.
On “Rap God,” Eminem redeems his supremacy and makes his strongest declaration of dominance as he chants, “I’m beginning to feel like a rap god, rap god.”
Few people can get away with such references (See: Kanye West—”I Am a God”). But as the third single on MMLP2, “Rap God” received minimal backlash.
On “Stronger Than I Was,” one of the most rousing songs in Eminem’s catalog not limited to MMLP2, he croons to a former love, “But you won’t break me/You’ll just make me stronger than I was.”
He dedicates two and a half verses of universally relatable lyrics of heartbreak before announcing, “But I’m breaking out of this slump I’m in, pulling myself out of the dumps once again,” offering a rare sense of inspiration to any heartbroken listener.
Finally, in the second-to-last track on the album, Eminem repents in a way tenured fans would never imagine.
In “Headlights,” the rapper infamous for hating his own mother issues an ode of simultaneous forgiveness and apology to the woman he viciously attacked in songs such as “Brain Damage” (The Slim Shady LP, 1999), “Cleaning Out My Closet” (The Eminem Show, 2002) and “My Mom” (Relapse, 2009).
In Eminem’s most emotionally revealing song since “Mockingbird” (Encore, 2004) he rhymes, “I went in headfirst/Never thinking about who what I said hurt, in what verse/My mom probably got it the worst/The brunt of it, but as stubborn as we are/Did I take it too far?”
He apologizes, “But I’m sorry mama for cleaning out my closet, at the time I was angry/Rightfully maybe so, never meant that far to take it though.”
He finally forgives, “And I’m way too old to cry, that s***’s painful though/But ma, I forgive you, so does Nathan yo/All you did, all you said, you did your best to raise us both.” This song alone is a testament to the newest alter ego of Eminem.
Take away the silly 2 Chainz ad libs, the dark Kendrick Lamar voice distortions, the soulful Kanye West beats and rap music is reduced to nothing more than poetry.
On Eminem’s eighth studio album, he wastes little time with playful distractions present in today’s popular hip-hop music.
In a series of albums, Eminem took fans on a schizophrenic journey of self-titled albums from The Slim Shady LP (1999) to The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) to the Eminem Show (2002) and finally to the second coming of Marshall Mathers, MMLP2.
The only hitch in the album comes on the second track, an obscure “Parking Lot” skit that does not complement any songs or themes of the album, leaving listeners scratching their heads for the whole minute duration.
The lone guest rap verse on the album is presented to Kendrick Lamar. In “Love Game,” which samples Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders’ “Game of Love,” Eminem and Lamar collaborate on a spiteful love song. Lamar’s invitation onto MMLP2 is a seemingly blatant Eminem seal of approval.
The younger star is on the rising action of his career while this album may be Eminem’s denouement. The torch has been passed.
Eminem’s latest product is still not an album you can listen to with your parents. But when has anything this fun been enjoyable with parents?
AN EMINEM MAD LIB
Before MMLP2, Eminem was often rejected as a BAD GUY with a heart emptier than an elementary school PARKING LOT in the middle of the night. There was no RHYME OR REASON why his music was purchased and critically acclaimed SO MUCH BETTER than any other musician let alone rapper. Thirteen years after the release of the original Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem validated the SURVIVAL of his LEGACY despite being an A**HOLE and BERZERK-minded. The self-proclaimed RAP GOD made a career of BRAINLESS songs. In the most lyrically clever album of his career, Eminem screams “I’m STRONGER THAN I WAS,” and not half THE MONSTER he has been painted as SO FAR… Listeners have been playing a hate and LOVE GAME with Eminem since 1999. The 41-year-old mega star was at times blinded by the HEADLIGHTS of fame, losing sight of himself and possibly not rapping through his heart but rather the mind and body of his EVIL TWIN.