Eminem returns to his roots for this album, which serves as a sequel to 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP. The rapper decided to do something completely different from 2010’s Recovery by experimenting with vintage hip hop and giving it a new sense of purpose. Troubled years in Detroit are now revised under a more mature scope of a 40-year-old Marshall Mathers.
The album cover depicting the rapper’s recently demolished childhood home revives those memories as the story unfolds in front of our… ears. Introducing track Bad Guy picks up from where The Marshall Mathers LP left off, with crazy fan Stan’s younger brother, Matthew Mitchell, taking the lead. Eminem rhymes his lungs out while adding a surprisingly rock flavour to it.
What makes this album special and way different from its somewhat pop predecessor is the diversity of the music styles. Dark instrumental rock backgrounds and soul melodies intertwined with aggressive rhymes and catchy hooks manage to sound completely natural.
Berzerk is the perfect example of this, with hints of guitar setting an old-school ‘90s vibe, echoing the sound of Beastie Boys. Nostalgic So Far… with a country-rock Sweet Home Alabama–like background pays respects to Detroit. Missing the era he grew up in, the rapper is trying to accept the fact that he’s now 40 and still hung up on a generation without iPod.
Survival and Legacy are “screaming” that Em is here to stay. Stronger, but with the same psychological baggage he’s been carrying around since he was a kid, the rapper sounds very aware of his scars that he has somehow come to terms with. Through Marshall’s eyes, Brainless and Monster (featuring Rihanna) portray this battle within him.
Stronger than I was, surrounded by piano melodies, finds Eminem singing –and not rapping- for a heartbreak that reflects his failed marriage with Kim; the same Kim that alter ego Slim Shady brutally “choked” in The Marshall Mathers LP.
In Rhyme or Reason, Mathers unleashes all his hatred towards his dad, although the “bluesy” background doesn’t exactly match the angry rhymes. Conversely, emotionally charged Headlights gives justice to Em’s mother while the rapper seems to have left the pain she’s caused him behind.
On a less mature note, So much better, Asshole, Love Game and Evil Twin remind us of classic angry-at-the-world cynical Eminem who hates all women except for his daughters, while Rap God brings out his conceited self. “Why be a king when you can be a God?” He always maintains a sense of irony and self-awareness, though. Besides, no one else could pull off 101 words in just 16 seconds.
For those of you wondering about the Deluxe edition of the album, unfortunately the extra five tracks are aimlessly repeating the same concept over and over again.
The Marshall Mathers LP2 reminds us of the Eminem we used to know; fun and troubled, now with a sense of inner peace. Fans or not, this is definitely an album worth listening to.
* Image Courtesy of Flickr.