Marshall Mathers LP 2: This Lyricist Still has Some Rhymes Left to Spit

By Iman Naima Smith

The album cover is enigmatic—in a wooded area rests a boarded-windowed home littered with desolation. The number “19946” is splashed across the door, the likely culprit that of black spray paint.

Welcome to “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” the latest album by the legendary and critically acclaimed lyricist Eminem.

“MMLP2” was not a massive surprise for fans.

In 2012, the rapper released a customized baseball cap, a cap dedicated to the Detroit Tigers, according to Fuse. The rapper posted the headwear on his website, making it available for fans to purchase.

The cap, the traditional backwards “E” on its cover, depicted a list of Eminem’s work beginning in 1996 followed by select years up to 2010.

Placed at the bottom of the list was 2013, a subtle and unique new album announcement.

“MMLP2” is new, and yet old, because it acts as a sequel to Eminem’s paramount album, “The Marshall Mathers LP,” released in 2000.

That album, with unforgettable tracks such as “Stan” and “The Real Slim Shady,” gave the world an introduction to a rapper with bleached blonde hair and an attitude problem.

The 41-year-old rap laureate is no different; he has given us a throwback, a “Slim Shady” reunion—blonde hair and all.

However, the direction of this sequel is much more focused. His skills are polished to pristine condition.

“MMLP2” opens with a track titled “Bad Guy,” a song that acts as a philosophical discussion centered on the rapper’s newfound identity, a persona who is aware of his past.

He depicts his frustrations of trying to evoke the powerful persona he once perpetuated:

Trying to recapture that lighting trapped in a bottle,

Twice the magic that started it all,

Tragic portrait of an artist tortured,

Trapped in his own drawings.

This track is a successful introduction to “MMLP2,” which includes 16 songs—some fresh and unexpected—others typical traditional Eminem.

Notable tracks include “Stronger Than I Was,” a tune reminiscent of “I’m Not Afraid” from his last release, 2010’s “Recovery.”

This ballad screams self-dignity along with uplifting and definitive proclamations. Of course, the track is not without profuse profanity. However, what may surprise audiences is the rapper’s vocal emphasis.

This track, along with the entire album, is filled with colossal choruses, with Eminem stationed up close and personal to the microphone. He’s not just spitting—he’s singing for a gargantuan amount of time.

“Rhyme or Reason” samples the funky 1968 single “Time of the Season” by The Zombies. The opening of the song teasingly asks, “What’s your name? Who’s your daddy?”

Eminem answers with a blunt, “Marshall,” followed by “I don’t have one.” This track is prominent for instead of the rapper delivering angry words toward an invisible father, he poses philosophical questions for dissection.

“Headlights” is an apology to the performer’s mother, an apology that actually seems heartfelt and sincere. The song features Nate Ruess of the pop band Fun., where his vocals on the chorus add an interesting juxtaposition to the rapper’s rhymes.

Ruess’ voice creates a hollow atmosphere within the track, depicting just how tumultuous Eminem’s relationship is with his mother.

“Rap God,” is a track that returns us to genius rapid-fire lyrics laced with blasphemy and vigorous delivery.

The song acts is a public service announcement proclaiming that Eminem has officially returned to the center stage of The Rap Game. It’s very convincing.

“Berzerk,” the radio single from the album, takes us back to the era of The Beastie Boys implemented with flamboyant sound clips and chaotic beats.

The song is a fun one but undermines the overall presentation, for it sounds disorganized along with a hint of pointless noise making in certain areas.

The album includes collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Sia, Skylar Grey and Rihanna.

Lamar and Eminem work well together on “Love Game,” a playful jingle that is deliciously sensational.

This album is not “MMLP.” This album is not “Recovery.” This album is a different animal than its predecessors and even at times when it simply echoes what has already been heard, the LP exhibits an innovative and eclectic direction that is a must-listen.

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