It’s been quite a week for Eminem. He’s been accused of lip-syncing during his “Saturday Night Live performance,” and of being homophobic in some new songs. But the rapper has had his share of controversy before, and the release of his eighth studio album Tuesday is a reminder of why we really love Em, despite his turbulent life.
By calling his latest release “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” a lot of hype has been built for the sequel to live up to 2000’s original. The new album has Eminem spitting as fast as ever and bringing in a handful of guest musicians. He delivers his specialty of angry and sometimes comedic worldly outlooks.
The album is long with 16-tracks, but allows for a good variety. The opening and angst-fueled song “Bad Guy” sounds like and makes reference to the old hit “Stan.” In “Evil Twin,” Em reminds us of his ongoing battles with his inner demons and various alter-egos.
“Love Game” featuring Kendrick Lamar is upbeat and dance-worthy hip-hop that interestingly mixes 1965’s silly song “The Game of Love” by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Lamar’s performance is impressive while Em references his ups and downs with women. When he blatantly calls one woman a “slut,” it’s the kind of sexist animosity that would give shivers. But we’ve come to expect and embrace these types of rants from Em.
That being said, the song “Rap God” has stirred homophobic accusations because terms like “faggot” and “gay” are delivered in a not-so-endearing tone. But Eminem has never been politically correct, and I think the usage is a release of emotion rather than an actual stance on lifestyle choices. I think “Rap God” is one of the best songs on the album, and nicely shows off his ability to spit at lightening speed.
Rihanna joins Em on “The Monster,” and the rapper and dance-music queen make a good duo. Their respective parts mix well together, and the pop-y beat I think ensures this song will get a lot of plays in the clubs. The album’s first single “Berzerk” is also pop-y with its mix of ‘80s jams, but doesn’t really fit as well with Em’s style. “The Monster” would have been a much better choice for the first single.
Though “MMLP2” is chock full of classic Eminem bluntness and rage, some lyrics show that he’s no longer just an angry young man. He complains about social media and technology in “So Far…,” and shockingly offers an apology to his mother in “Headlights,” the woman he so often publicly ripped in the past.
The album is either good or really good, depending on how you look at it. To view it as an attempt at being a continuance of the original Marshall Mathers LP would be disappointing, as it is not nearly as raw as the first. I prefer to look at it as a second chapter. One that embraces the fact that Eminem has undoubtedly grown and changed, but thankfully at his core is still our beloved Slim Shady.