Album review: Eminem’s ‘The Marshall Mathers LP2’
The rapper has very few tricks up his sleeve on the sequel to his classic album.
On the deluxe edition of The Marshall Mathers LP2, the sequel to Eminem’s classic album, there’s a track aptly titled “Groundhog Day.” Intentional or not, it shares its name with the 1993 film in which Bill Murray experiences the same day over and over again.
It’s a metaphor for Eminem’s career since 2002’s The Eminem Show. Since then, it seems I’ve been listening to the same Slim album for 11 years, and whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to the listener.
During The Marshall Mathers LP2’s nostalgia-riddled 78 minutes, however, it’s extremely difficult to find anything to get excited about. Even the record’s bright spots are incredibly lackluster, save for album opener “Bad Guy.”
A continuation of “Stan” from The Marshall Mathers LP, “Bad Guy” is written from Stan’s brother’s perspective, who has returned to exact revenge. It highlights Eminem’s storytelling ability, and while it’s not the only track that sounds like classic Slim, it’s the only one that truly emulates his early work.
Other attempts to replicate his original sound don’t bode so well for Mr. Mathers. On “So Much Better” and “Love Game,” he reverts to his horrorcore and shock-rap beginnings, even going so far as to say “My life will be so much better / If you just dropped dead” on the former. The latter, which features rap’s godsend Kendrick Lamar, is a silly, promiscuous ode to the rap game and, depending on how you look at it, oral sex.
Now over-the-hill and sober, it’s awkward, if not a little unsettling, to hear Eminem tackling the same subject matter he did in his youth. Even if this wasn’t the case, his misogynistic and homophobic quips are no longer shocking, and his horrorcore gimmick has become quite passé.
Perhaps Eminem could take a few pointers from fellow shock-rap auteur Tyler, the Creator. The 22-year-old has managed to do something Eminem hasn’t: grow up.
Indeed, Eminem’s maturity and motives are certainly in question, but his technical ability is not. Take, for example, “Rap God,” the EDM-inspired, six-minute centerpiece in which Eminem raps 97 words in 15 seconds. It’s a breathtaking feat (literally), but when it’s coupled with lazy pop-culture references and uninspired verbiage, it loses face value.
And that’s the problem with The Marshall Mathers LP2: it’s colorless and unanimated. Instead of creating a sequel, Eminem has created unimaginative carbon copy. And though it might be a welcomed dose of nostalgia that hardcore Slim fans will worship, it’s hardly the best the he could offer.
It’s quite clear that Eminem has officially hit cruise control.
MOVE gives The Marshall Mathers LP2 2 out of 5 stars.