Under Review: Eminem, ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2′

Eminem, "The Marshall Mathers LP 2" (Interscope) Available now Rating:

Eminem, “The Marshall Mathers LP 2″
(Interscope)
Available now
Rating: ★★½ (out of four) 

Sequels are almost never a good idea. And with ”The Marshall Mathers LP” being generally considered one of the best hip-hop albums of all time, who thought that “The Marshall Mathers LP 2″ was a good idea?

Well, Eminem did. He raps in “Asshole” that “I’m goin’ back to what got me here,” and that’s what he does. There are dozens of references (including characters, themes and full lines) to the first installment. A lot of that seems odd to reference 13 years later, but there are a lot of tracks here to enjoy.

With the deluxe edition at 20 full songs and one short skit, it’s a thick album and it takes awhile to get through. With its mish-mash of popular songs “Berzerk” stands out as the best part of the album’s first half. Eminem’s skillful rhyming and lyrical rhythm are on full display all over the record. He really shows off on “Rap God,” but it’s unfortunate that he decided to include a verse about a “little gay-looking boy” that ruins the song.

The whole record gets better with “Stronger Than I Was” and that continues through the album’s final 10 tracks. “Headlights” is the successor to “Cleaning Out My Closet” where a grown-up Eminem apologizes to his mother despite all she put him through when he was young. “Love Game” comes off as a misogynistic rant from Eminem and guest star Kendrick Lamar, but it’s a really catchy one. “Baby,” the best track among the deluxe edition, is Eminem at his anger-spitting best as he takes down everyone he has a grudge against. And despite kinda mocking fellow Michigan native Kid Rock on “Berzerk,” the track “Desperation” is a full on country-rap hybrid song. (And it’s great.)

Those familiar with Rick Rubin can feel his fingerprints all over the record, especially “Rhyme or Reason,” “So Far…” and “Love Game,” which all have Rubin’s flair for dropping rhymes over classic rock. Eminem didn’t stop with the immediately accessible self-referential “So Far…,” which features Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good So Far” is one of the album’s best tracks, but it’s more on the back of Em’s rhymes than the familiarity of the song.

Past fans of Eminem, especially his “Slim Shady”/”Marshall Mathers”/”Eminem Show” will love this record for its very familiar vibe and, even if you’re not in that group, there’s still a lot to like including Eminem’s wordsmithing. And no matter who you are, quite a few tracks that will make you hit the skip button. A lot.

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