Eminem season continues today as we go back to 2013's 'Marshall Mathers LP2' - the sequel to arguably his best ever album. After critics and fans were very 50/50 on his last few albums despite the commercial success - Em felt he had something to prove here and put the most pressure he could on him by providing a sequel to 'The Marshall Mathers LP' - would he deliver at the most important stage of his career?
The production on this album is great throughout. It's more synth heavy than usual and captures the moods of the tracks well with catchy guitar bass', nice drum patterns and a great deal of energy to them, such as 'Survival' which has this electric guitar, heavy arena style rock beat which is amazing as he talks on how to survive the rap game as long as he has - by adapting to the current scene and being the best. With victorious bars and wordplay, it's a track with immense energy from Em and the beat - a great hook and a really good hype song in general. 'Rap God' has a more futuristic type beat with these great, deep 808 kicks that come in at certain points as he talks on being a God of rap with slick wordplay, punchlines and high level of lyricism, "You're witnessin' a mass-occur // Like you're watching a church gathering take place, lookin' boy". The rhyme schemes and lyrical acrobats here as well as the fast part are great and proof of his technical ability - the whole track has a catchy hook, mean delivery and smooth sounding sped up flows - it's a very good song. 'Brainless' has this spiraling piano and nice drum pattern to provide a great beat as Em combines his sharp lyricism and storytelling as he takes us through his life of being bullied in his youth and how rap helped him to gain confidence to fit in more - reflecting on life now he's the biggest rapper of all time, "Take some inventory: in this gourd there's a Ford engine // Door hinge, syringe, an orange, an extension cord, and a ninja sword" (he even rhymes orange here to show off). His rhyme scheme is impeccable, the hooks catchy and the flow slick - this feels like an old Eminem song and was so enjoyable.
Arguably Eminem's technical ability is of its highest display on this album, as it's full of slick wordplay, double/triple entendres, clever punchlines and graphic metaphors, such as on 'Evil Twin' with the lines, "Don't try to fix me, I'm broke, so I don't work // So are you, but you're broke ‘cause you don't work", as he reflects on his past content such as attacking celebrities and despite blaming it on Slim Shady, he comes clean and owns up to it stating him and slim “are the same” over this mean, electronic synth heavy beat with booming drums. Another bar heavy track from em with a mean delivery and unique flow over a crazy beat and it's easily one of the best on here. He can get emotional and raw with his lyrics at times as well, such as on 'Headlights' which has really honest and eye opening lyrics, as well as raw heart-warming lines, "And I'm way too old to cry, this shit is painful though // But, Ma, I forgive you, so does Nathan, yo // All you did, all you said, you did your best to raise us both // Foster care, that cross you bear, few may be as heavy as yours // But I love you, Debbie Mathers // Oh, what a tangled web we have ‘cause // One thing I never asked was // Where the fuck my deadbeat dad was", as he issues an apology to his mother for all he's said and done to her. The slow drum pattern and really warming, light mood as well as Nate Russ' catchy and great hook creates arguably Em's most moving song, the hook and powerful, emotional verses leave a tear in the eye – it's possibly the best song on the album. His storytelling is still top tier and available for us to see here, shown perfectly on the sequel to 'Stan', 'Bad Guy' where his younger brother Matthew comes for revenge of Stans death being in the hands of Eminem and kills him in eerily similar circumstances. The storytelling is incredibly vivid and thought out over this screeching synth line, baseline & drums which combine for a great beat and for verse 4 this epic orchestral beat as he gives us a dramatic and honest final verse as he spills out his regrets, insecurities, hypocrisy and how Matthew is a symbol for those he's offended, "I'm the bullies you hate that you became // With every faggot you slaughtered // Coming back on ya, every woman you insult // Batter, but the double-standard you have // When it comes to your daughters". The whole track has a nice hook, powerful last verse actually one of his best ever it always gives me goosebumps, his delivery fits perfectly – amazing intro arguably his best ever. He covers every area of technical rap with incredible rhyme schemes, a great flow and a mean delivery which makes him sound as hungry as ever.
Most features on here are just pop hooks but they're catchy and sound great, one track though where I wasn't feeling the hook was Skylar Grey on 'Asshole' as the track reflects on Em's controversial rap career being the asshole over this heavy, crashing beat which sounds decent. It's a great commentary from Em with solid punchlines and wordplay - a few corny lines too but it's very bar heavy and he also has a nice flow - it's not a highlight of Em's career but it's a good song. Rihanna provides a sensational hook which is really catchy on 'The Monster' as Em provides great wordplay and lets us know his true thoughts with great lyricism over these catchy guitar riffs and drum pattern creating a nice beat. The track focuses on the negatives side of fame but conflicted with how he always wanted it, how Slim Shady is the monster in his head and he needs to let go of him. It's the best Em and Rihanna collab so far - it's catchy, meaningful and interesting with an insane amount of replay value. Kendrick Lamar is the only rap feature, coming in on 'Love Game' with a crazy rhyme scheme, funny lines throughout as Sherane is playing with his heart, "Told the stupid n**** to duck under the water // He drowned, like an abortion // They booked you for manslaughter // You beat the case and I called ya // "Sherane is not available now, leave a message at the tone // And Kendrick, don't forget to buy two pair of those // Expensive heels, you little fuckin' Ferris wheel // Fuckin' spinnin' on me—fuck you think, we gon' get married still? // Fuckin' Mary had a little lamb, this ain't no fairy tale // Fairy godmama better tell you how I fuckin' feel // Like you should fuckin' beat it // Or fuckin' eat it while I'm on my period // Now have a blessed day." (*Phone hangs up*)", the vocal inflections and fast flow keep things interesting. Em's verses are also full of wordplay, metaphors and punchlines then verse 3 we see great storytelling of a psychotic relationship where the girl is trying to kill him on the freeway before she falls from 11 stories and dies. The whole song is about how the game of love ends in heartbreak over this light hearted beat and great sample. It's a nice track, light hearted and funny - and that Eminem 3rd verse is just amazing. I wanted more rappers on here but I'm not too disappointed because the features perform to a high quality.
Content wise, it touches similar topics to its prequel but takes a more mature stance on the matter, such as on 'Rhyme or Reason' which focuses on his passion for rap, former controversial rap image and blind rage as well as his dad working out on him. He has so many bars in this song, "Kryptonite to a hypocrite // Zip your lip if you dish it but can't take it // Too busy gettin' stoned in your glass house // To kick rocks, then you wonder why I lash out", over this catchy guitar bass and fun beat with a great flow - the whole song is just very entertaining with a great rhyme scheme. He reflects on his career and his decline in popularity a lot on here too, one example being 'So Far...' as he reflects on how far he’s come with the negatives side of fame such as lack of privacy, being stuck in old habits - and talks on his lack of understanding of new technology, how he still buys cheap food and doesn’t take advantage of his wealth. The heavy guitar strings sound really good and Em provides a bunch of slick wordplay, funny punchlines, cool references back to the first Mathers LP which are enjoyable to hear throughout, "Other day, someone got all elaborate // And stuck a head from a fuckin' dead cat in my mailbox // Went to Burger King—they spit on my onion rings // I think my karma is catchin' up with me". The hooks really nice, there's so much to look out for on this song and it's entertaining from the beginning to end as well as quite unique. 'Legacy' see's Em talk on his rough upbringing – no dad, suffered bullying, a bit of a loner and how he uses rap to escape and now he’s made it he reflects back and says he’s glad he’s different from the other kids because it helped him get to the level he’s at now. The lyrics are very raw and honest and the 3rd verse has aggressive, controlling lyrics with this massive triumphant hook over the really sorry piano which captures the mood before it explodes into life for the hook. The verses get clearer as they go on as Em gets more confident and older – the last verse is so passionate and angry - amazing verse and amazing song. It's not the strongest content of an Eminem album - but people who say this album had no content are just painfully wrong.
Other tracks to look at include 'So Much Better' as Em makes a song around his girl cheating and lying to him and simply states - life would be so much better if she was dead (possibly a metaphor for rap game having other stars and it's easier if he just quits). The lyrics are funny at times with nice wordplay but there's also some painfully bad lines here, "You're feeling blue? Too late, go smurf yourself // You make me wanna smurf and puke blue Kool Aid" (it's silly and just makes no sense), as the beat is the same beat of 'Criminal' from the last Mathers LP altered with heavy drums and a hard piano melody. The hook while not great in terms of singing quality is catchy - overall it's flawed but is a fun, bouncy track. 'Berzerk' see's Em attack the new landscape of rap while paying homage to old school rap and taking hip hop back to the beginning - as well as telling critics he’s back and to not doubt him. The Beastie Boys type rock/rap beat from Rick Rubin is great and it's another bar heavy track with great punchlines and wordplay - the hook is catchy and his cocky attitude combined with his smooth flow makes a great track. Finally, 'Stronger Than I Was' is this soft track as we get a look into Eminem and Kim's relationship, the sorrows and regrets of it as some people suggest it's possibly from Kim's perspective. His lyrics are emotional, honest, vivid and powerful over these slow paced drums - the whole melancholy atmosphere was captured perfectly and while Em's singing isn't top tier, it's smooth and passionate - fitting the song well and the rap verse at the end is great - packed with emotion and a great cadence - a hot take here but I really enjoy this song.
To conclude, this album is great and one of the best albums of the decade. Many think it was Em's best since the big three and I can definitely see why - the lyrics are arguably the best they've been, his delivery makes him sound hungry and he sounds like he has something to prove on this. The production is fine, the cadence throughout is technically efficient and it's just a really solid rap album with great charisma, powerful tracks and mainstream appeal as well.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Bad Guy, Rhyme or Reason, Survival, Legacy, Berzerk, Rap God, Brainless, The Monster, Headlights, Evil Twin
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Asshole
OVERALL RATING: Solid 9/10