“Behold the final chapter in the saga / Trying to recapture that lightning trapped in a bottle.” The Marshall Mathers LP 2 marks the eighth studio album and return of the world-renowned, women-hating, gay-bashing, foul-mouthed, mother-dissing wordsmith that is Eminem. Releasing a little more than 13 years after the original MMLP that gave us the introduction of Slim Shady, Eminem is back with a new nickname, “Rap God.” Over the past 17 years, Eminem has come to dominate the rap world and become the biggest musician of the past decade. Unfailingly, this album contains many of the topics you’d expect Eminem to hash out–whether it’s problems with relationships, drugs, fame, privacy, his mental state, or his own position in the rap world. With the criticism of his last album, Recovery, being too pop sounding, Eminem attempts to return to where it all started with this sequel. Depending on your musical tastes, you may be disappointed to find that there is no exact return to the violent Slim Shady that gave FCC officials heart attacks. However, do not dismiss this album because it cannot copy the past. Eminem is still bringing the lyrical talent that got him respected as one of the greatest MC’s alive, blending together the pop anthem music from his fame with the darker past he’s trying to recapture.
While still crudely comical, he says he has to “keep a few punchlines just in case cause even you unsigned / Rappers are hungry looking at me like it’s lunchtime.” Eminem also takes this final stand to close on some issues we’ve come to know from him. For instance it’s become public knowledge that Eminem “hates on” his mom like it’s his job (and it kind of is), but instead of insulting her or making jokes of raping her like in the previous LP; Eminem dedicates the song, “Headlights,” to her and thanks her for the good that she did as well as the bad.
The MMLP2 also connects a lot of Eminem’s previous work to this album. Besides the album itself being a sequel, it also starts off with the song “Bad Guy,” which is a continuation to his acclaimed song “Stan.” In the song, Stan’s younger brother comes to pay Eminem back for killing his brother and takes the voice of the karma that Eminem feels should come from his life’s work of insults and aggressive nature. The album also features the second part of the parking lot skit from the first LP in which he robs a store. In fact, many songs throughout the album are littered with references to earlier works, songs, and past event’s in his life. “Like that one line I said on ‘I’m Back’ from the Mathers LP1 / Where I tried to say I take seven kids from Columbine / Put ’em all in a line, add an AK-47, a revolver and a nine.”
All in all, although the MMLP2 may be the sequel to the birth of Slim Shady, Eminem is no longer the struggling drug addict from the underground he once was. He’s now one of the most celebrated artists of all time and has enough money to buy 8 Mile. This change and the road it took to get there can be seen in his work, leaving us with a variation of songs ranging from: the chart topper “The Monster”; the sad emotional ballad of “Stronger than I Was”; the throwback to older times with “Berzerk”; the power anthem of “Survival”; the six minute explosion of wordplay and rap talent, “Rap God”; and everything else in between. Any fan of Eminem who can accept an artist’s evolution will enjoy this album. Any rap fan that can appreciate the lyrical skill and rhythmic gift of Eminem will enjoy this album. Anyone who doesn’t like Eminem probably won’t like this album, because odds are they don’t like fun either.