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Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP 2 Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 3.5
Musicianship 3.5
Lyrics 3.5
Production 3.5
Creativity 3.5
Lasting Value 3.5
Reviewer Tilt 3.5
Final Verdict: 35%
Member Ratings
Vocals 6.18
Musicianship 6.28
Lyrics 6.23
Production 6.4
Creativity 5.81
Lasting Value 5.95
Reviewer Tilt 5.9
Average: 61%
Inside AP.net

Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP 2

Reviewed by: Ryan Dennehy (11/04/13)
EminemThe Marshall Mathers LP 2
Record Label: Shady/Aftermath
Release Date: November 5, 2013


If you were to attempt to read the lyrics from Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP 2 before release day on Rap Genius, you would be greeted with a message that the site had deferred to the “Rap God himself” and blocked his songs lyrics from the site until release day. They even included a link to the preorder of the album. As the RG editors deference is far from unusual, one has to marvel at the dominance Em has over the world of hip-hop, 14 years since the release of the original MMLP. Both professional MCs and casual fans grovel at the feet of Eminem, even going so far as to defend tepid releases like Relapse that he has disowned and even named the (equally bad, it needs to be said) follow up Recovery as a meta-apology. The respect he commands despite mediocre to tragically abysmal records is rivaled perhaps only by fellow old guard member Jay Z. The distinction in the two lies in the fact that Eminem remains a modern marvel of wordplay and rap ability who is being quite forward in his attempts to recapture his early career zeitgeist, neither of which are true of Jay anymore.

The encapsulation of this is “Rap God,” an astounding song that makes a strong case for its creator based solely on the rapping showcased within. Eminem flips and warps the English language in ways that boggle the mind, but he still manages to sink his own ship by failing in every other imaginable facet of songwriting. His history of forgettable beats that have been overcome by his sheer force of will recurs yet again. It is coupled as always with his trademark adolescent humor and “shocking” cursing. The ludicrous “hook” should have been left off the track entirely, seeing as the song depends solely on Eminem’s skill at dropping bars and does not require or warrant a hook. As is, it’s an irritating distraction from the desperately clear message: that he is the best when it comes to rapping in unbelievably complex ways. But what is the use of being a master when it is in service to egregiously bad jokes like “The only hall of fame I’m inducted in/is the alcohol of fame.” This is the kind of dad joke that 2 Chainz has become derided for by “serious” hip hop fans, but you’ll hear no such claims levied against Em. And this is all without really getting into the oblivious jabs at being offensively shocking as you unravel the manifold lyrical layers, a critique of Eminem that has been rendered as predictably rote as the content itself.

Not one to dwell on Pyrrhic victories, Eminem spends the rest of the runtime slowly disgracing the name of the original MMLP while obfuscating it beneath a veneer of his ability to make english malleable in ways it certainly was not designed to be. Deplorably goofy hooks that should have been left on the cutting room floor instead litter the album (“Asshole,” “Rhyme or Reason”) and leaving you to wonder how this guy is the most quantifiable popular artist of the last thirteen years. “So Far” shifts between a Jimmy Buffet-tinged nasally whine of a chorus, a cavernous electro run, and a Kid Rock-aping core of a dismal southern rock-rap hybridization that comes with a belch sample. There are a plethora of decisions as baffling as “Rap God” is impressive, like a verse partially in Yoda’s voice and syntax over a late 60’s psychedelic rock song by the Zombies that is perhaps one of the most confounding moments in pop music’s history. Rapping over a beat lifted from that sort of track is imaginative and daring, if a sadly disappointing endeavor. Eminem would probably be best served by working with the future-funk of Dr. Dre instead of attempting to resuscitate rap’s Rick Rubin helmed era of rock-sample infatuation. The bombastic throb of stadium guitars on “Survival” wouldn’t flatter the most “anthemic” radio rock stars and they’re even less so for a rapper who seems hell bent on refusing to age gracefully.

Some of this had to be deliberately alienating to his “mainstream” fans, an attempt on the part of Eminem to reassure his fans who prefer to categorize him as hip-hop over pop that he isn't kowtowing to the radio. But that raises the question of why equally nonviable radio bids featuring artist of the moment Nate Ruess and Rihanna exist, though they aren't failures for a lack of effort. What this means is that the record doesn't function well as a “straight hip hop” as he claims on the muddled radio-rock “Berzerk,” but it isn't quite successful as radio rap either. Eight albums into his career, Eminem is still struggling with whether he can exist simultaneously as a rap virtuoso and pop artist, and it makes for infuriating tracks that certainly don’t clarify the situation to anybody with the misfortune of listening.

Later on the record, an appearance by a devout Em fan and the only plausible contemporary rival in pure technical ability Kendrick Lamar is flat and deflationary as K.Dot chooses to adopt the guise of his idol instead of striving to rap around him the way he did Jay Z earlier this year, something that couldn’t be hard considering Eminem literally slurps his tongue on the track. It's a shame that the fawning appearance didn’t spur Eminem to reconsider the way he’s viewed by those who have come after him. Instead, he does an exceptionally oblivious job on “Bad Guy” of delineating his relationship with his fans as he did on its prequel “Stan.” The latter was a harrowing high water mark of his career, told in the form of a psychotic devotion to the rapper, but its descendant follows the tale of Stan’s younger sibling, who is contorted with rage at Em. It’s hard not to give credit where it’s due – I definitely sympathize with Matthew’s righteous, indignant fury with his one-time hero, though almost certainly not in the way Eminem intended. How can I not, after all? A record titled after his “classic” that contains references to Kevin Federline and contains none of the same idiosyncratic appeal that made him a cultural juggernaut in the first place leaves little choice but to recognize Em is a cliché; he has become what he once mocked. He even addresses what he’s leaving behind for fans on “Legacy,” saying “Cause you dicks, butt kiss, a bunch of Brian Baldingers/You gon die a ball licker I've been diabolical” and “You don't respect the legacy I leave behind y'all can/Suck a dick, the day you beat me pigs'll fly out my ass/And a flying saucer full of Italian sausage.” Why, exactly, are we supposed to respect the legacy of a 41 year old father who thinks “butt kiss” and “ball licker” are hilariously denigrating to his detractors? MMLP2 doesn’t offer much of a reason, nor does it seem interested in doing so. Taken together, these tracks show how in the intervening years since MMLP, Eminem has himself become an institution to be torn down.

He’s on the inside looking out, and it’s readily apparent that he wants nothing more to be back on the fringes, shocking people out of their complacency. But that torch has long since been passed to a younger vanguard – this is a world where Odd Future is already nearly passé and disavowing those same tactics, and he is further hobbled by his own success that requires obligatory laughable ballads like “Stronger Than I Was.” It’s not clear what place Eminem has in the pop or rap landscapes of today, but it certainly isn't claiming that he's "got 99 problems/but a bitch ain't one/she's all 99 of them and I need a machine gun to take em all out." It's lazily calculated to hoard whatever attention for shock value surrealist humor can be left after he invented and owned that lane entirely for the last decade and a half. MMLP2 makes it more plain than ever that Eminem is among a growing number of rap superstars who are little more than vestigial pieces shoehorned onto radio by inertia alone. The main takeaway of MMLP2 is that Eminem fails to realize that the formulas that worked so well for him in 1999 are at best tired and tame today, and can't be saved by his lyrical dexterity. He has put himself in an arms race of shock and awe against no one other than himself, and the results are dispiriting at best and alarming at worst. “I’m in a strange place” he raps on the album closer, and Eminem, for all his self-awareness and unparalleled ability, does not find his way out of this bewildering situation on Marshall Mathers LP 2.

3.5/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 502
07:50 PM on 11/04/13
#2
WhoSaidThat?
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Oof.
07:51 PM on 11/04/13
#3
Ryan Dennehy
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I anticipate this thread to be a blast.
07:52 PM on 11/04/13
#4
Jake Jenkins
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I anticipate this thread to be a blast.
from the past, just like this album the mmlp2
07:55 PM on 11/04/13
#5
Ryan Dennehy
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from the past, just like this album the mmlp2
This is a more successful joke than anything on this record.


Ball sack.
08:04 PM on 11/04/13
#6
Ryan Dennehy
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Few things before this is flooded in the coming day or so:

- The score is based almost exclusively on Eminem's rapping. I did not find anything else to be redeeming or enjoyable.
- He is not funny. Nothing here makes me laugh or even crack a smile. When 2 Chainz makes jokes like the one I singled out, he at least sounds like he's having fun. Em sounds like he's doing so out of spite. That's not fun and it's definitely not funny.
- I am not planning on being dragged into a discussion about his bigotry. I find it to be self evident and something no longer worth arguing over. It is a fact of his art, and I will not discredit him because of it as I do not do so for anyone else. It is something that is undeniable, however, and any criticisms of that language are deserved. I just did not want to add length to an already 1300 word review about a crap album to talk about something that's been beaten to death.
- Calling himself "rap bot" seems oddly accurate now that I've heard the whole record. There's little in the way of emotional expression that doesn't sound like it was pumped out by something trying to emulate human emotion in order to manipulate the audience.
- He is likely the best rapper alive. Unfortunately for everyone listening, he sucks at making music.
- MMLP is a good album.
08:27 PM on 11/04/13
#7
feelgoodside
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I think part of the reason this album fails so badly is because it is 2013, and Eminem is still spouting out the same homophobic shit that made douche bags like him over 10 years ago. With rappers like ASAP and Kanye trying to change people's minds who still have backwards views of things, Eminem comes out looking like a jackass trying to take cheap shots.

He seems to be going after the "oh wow, this guy is such a badass he doesn't give a fuck about anything or what anyone thinks of him." It kind of reminds me of the description of popular culture in the movie God Bless America. He probably should start to care, because stuff like this is making people think less of him.
08:36 PM on 11/04/13
#8
phaynes1
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This may be your best review yet, purely from a writing standpoint.
08:36 PM on 11/04/13
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Fox83
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08:38 PM on 11/04/13
phaynes1
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Very great gif choice can we get someone to post Jerry Seinfeld leaving the theater too I haven't seen that one in forever.
08:43 PM on 11/04/13
Ryan Dennehy
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This may be your best review yet, purely from a writing standpoint.

Very great gif choice can we get someone to post Jerry Seinfeld leaving the theater too I haven't seen that one in forever.

It's an Eminem thread in 2013. These are the types of people who are going to be defending him. I am not surprised in the least.
08:52 PM on 11/04/13
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Very great gif choice can we get someone to post Jerry Seinfeld leaving the theater too I haven't seen that one in forever.
You can get upset if you want, but I didn't post it in disagreement with the review. I just used it to portray how I feel about the impending backlash in here. You can both insult me though. It's all in good fun.
08:52 PM on 11/04/13
surette
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it's a well written review but we'll just have to agree to disagree. I think this is a good album.

you specifically called out Stronger Than I Was as laughable, whereas I love it. you talk about how the only redeeming thing about the album is how he raps well, but what about all the things he's doing differently, with tracks like Stronger Than I Was or So Far? those two are definitely in the top half of the album.
08:53 PM on 11/04/13
CircaSin
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I think part of the reason this album fails so badly is because it is 2013, and Eminem is still spouting out the same homophobic shit that made douche bags like him over 10 years ago. With rappers like ASAP and Kanye trying to change people's minds who still have backwards views of things, Eminem comes out looking like a jackass trying to take cheap shots.

He seems to be going after the "oh wow, this guy is such a badass he doesn't give a fuck about anything or what anyone thinks of him." It kind of reminds me of the description of popular culture in the movie God Bless America. He probably should start to care, because stuff like this is making people think less of him.

While i understand this, why do people give OF a pass on the homophobic shit in their music just because they have Frank Ocean? I find that just as hard to work through..
08:56 PM on 11/04/13
feelgoodside
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