Published on November 28th, 2013 | by Mike Conlon0
Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Eminem isn’t nearly as popular as he was a decade ago, which puts him in a real bind when he releases an album. If he takes his music in a new direction, he risks only further irrelevance. If he repeats what he’s done before, he risks becoming a nostalgia act at the relatively young age of 41. On ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2’ [‘LP 2’] Eminem goes with the second option and revisits ‘The Marshall Mathers LP,’ his ‘classic’ record. What results is a meticulously crafted, riff heavy, and entirely irrelevant album.
Not surprisingly, ‘LP 2’ is thematically tied to the original album. Opening track ‘Bad Guy’ is a continuation of the story Eminem told in ‘Stan,’ but this time it’s from the perspective of Stan’s vengeance-seeking younger brother. It’s a worthy follow up to ‘Stan,’ and quickly establishes that Eminem still has chops. However, the second track, ‘Rhyme or Reason’ calls these chops into question. Here Eminem samples The Zombie’s ‘Time of the Season,’ except he sings his own version of the chorus. My first listen to this track left me cold and angry. I’m still uncomfortable with it. Eminem has no business messing with that chorus (and he makes a weird, choppy mess of it, trying to do a call and response with the sample). But, the rest of the album is consistently strong, at least, on its own limited terms. ‘LP 2’ comes packaged with some several very catchy tracks, including a huge hit, ‘The Monster.’ Enjoy this one while you can, because several weeks from now you’ll have heard it so many times on the radio you’ll be beyond tired of it.
The ‘LP 2’ sets out to recapture the sound and vibe of the original ‘Marshall Mathers LP,’ and in this respect it’s an unqualified success. However success is bittersweet. The truth is, this album belongs in the past, and it only confirms Eminem’s irrelevance in the contemporary mainstream hip hop scene. ‘LP 2’ has nothing on ‘Yeezus,’ ‘Acid Rap,’ or even “Magna Carta.’ Where those albums are sonically and thematically driving things forward, ‘LP 2’ is a retread of old sounds and a tired mythology. I have no doubt this album would have set the world ablaze in 2000, but in 2013 it just sounds tired and old.