Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is one of the most recognized and decorated hip-hop artists of the past decade, boasting over 220 million records sold around the world and 13 Grammy Awards. But for the past three years, the world has heard very little from the iconic rapper. Despite his prolific credentials, many questioned, myself included, if the now 41-year old artist would be able to successfully release another studio album.
He not only did it — he killed it. ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” officially released November 5th is one of my favorite Eminem albums of all time. The choice in the album name itself, styled as the sequel to Eminem’s most acclaimed studio album “The Marshall Mathers LP,” is clear indication of the high standard it sought to achieve. The entire album is just a reminder to the hip-hop community that they’re all just living in Shady’s world.
In one of his headline tracks, “Rap God,” Eminem’s dexterity and lyrical genius are on full display: he brags of his own prowess while simultaneously dissing nearly a dozen other rappers. Perhaps one of the most impressive feats is a verse where he raps 97 words in just 15 seconds. True to its name, this track is solid proof that Eminem’s work is arguably immortal.
While Eminem hypes his greatness throughout the album, quite a few of the tracks focus on his humble beginnings. Songs such as “Stronger Than I Was” and “Legacy” are unexpectedly profound reflections on how far Eminem has come from his troubled childhood in 8 Mile, Michigan. The lyrics in these tracks are reminiscent of some of his earliest work and are comforting for long-time fans that worry that Eminem may forget his roots.
Given the self-absorbed content of many of his songs, Eminem’s new album is, surprisingly, not entirely a tribute to himself. The artist features Kendrick Lamar, Skylar Grey, Rihanna, and Fun’s lead singer Nate Ruess, among others, in six tracks. These songs offer welcome breaks from the classic Eminem heard throughout the rest of the album. Songs such as “Asshole (Feat. Skylar Grey)” and “The Monster (Feat. Rihanna)” are prime examples of Eminem’s well-crafted attempts at delving into the widespread pop/hip-hop style that is used by many of today’s rappers.
The only criticism I have of the album is that there is no cohesive or consistent mood between the songs. Long play studio albums are often known to tell a story or convey a message to listeners through the songs played. While Eminem generally centers many of the songs themes on his own career and legacy, seemingly random songs such as one of my favorites “Love Game (Feat. Kendrick Lamar),” veer completely away from any story Eminem may have been trying to tell.
Overall, ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2” is not only a personal favorite Eminem album but also one of my favorite albums released this entire year. Unless you hate Eminem, you should give this album a thorough listen.
It goes without saying that any self-respecting Eminem fan should add this album to their collection immediately. Hopefully, “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” is the beginning, rather than the end, of an era.
Shinseki is a member of the class of 2015.