On “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” Eminem returns to his roots

Eminem’s new CD finds him returning to the same concepts that made him popular on his 2000 breakthrough.

“The Marshall Mathers LP 2”, the 8th album from Eminem, was released on Nov. 5 2013 and clocks in at an impressive 82 min. in length.

The album shows him as an inspirational pop star, slightly mad rapper, self conscious father, and hurt lover. Unfortunately, missteps in execution have the album in too many places at once and unable to find an identity.

In his near 20-year career, Eminem has worn many personalities. From being crucified in the media for promoting violence in lyrics on his earlier albums to being a recovering addict on 2009’s Recovery. On “Marshall Mathers LP 2” all the ingredients are there but don’t make a complete package.

Moving forward from 2009’s “Recovery” Eminem ups the confidence and X-rated lyrics. His anger toward the world and the people in it have resurfaced and his music is healthier for it.

“So Much Better” brings back the anger from the earlier albums where he repeatedly wishes an ex lover would drop dead.

“Survival” has him rocking over guitars in a made-for-the-stadium anthem.

Rick Rubin’s production shines on songs like “Berserk” and “Rhyme or Reason” where he brings in smart samples, guitars, and leaves flawless pop sheen over the whole thing.

On the song “So far..” The unlikely Joe Walsh song “Life’s been good.” is sampled. Twangy guitars and comedy lyrics about not understanding technology come together under Rubin’s production and Eminem’s delivery.

Rihanna comes back on “The monster” to recreate the same formula from the 2010 hit “Love the way you lie” All of the features on the album are female vocalists with the exception of Kendrick Lamar, who makes the only rap appearance.

At the album’s end comes the tearjerker “Headlights” a song about Eminem’s mother. Known for songs about hating his mom, it is a reflective emotional moment from the notoriously harsh rapper.

Some attempts at previously successful formulas fail though. Trying to match the uplifting feeling of Recovery “Stronger than I was” sounds like it was written for an emo band with eyeliner on.

While the production and lyrical themes change constantly, the rapping is consistent. Eminem’s lyrics are as clever as ever and delivered clearly. He can gross you out and make you laugh with ease. He bends the English language to do what he needs to tell his story.

In the closing track “Evil Twin” Eminem states “I’m nuts/then again who wants a plain M&M?”

Author: Scott Morton

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