Announcing his new album as a sequel to 2000’s classic ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ could have gone two ways for Eminem: either it would breathe new life into the former face of the rapper’s slumping career, thrusting him back into the conversation of Hip-Hop’s best as he recaptures the magic that made the world fall in love with him in the first place, or it would come across as a desperate attempt to claw back his own relevancy and edge. Unfortunately, the rapper ends up treading closer to the latter, as ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2’ is a fragmented mess that struggles to find a comfortable formula unlike its beloved predecessor.
There are enjoyable moments to be found here however. Remember Eminem’s crowning moment ‘Stan’ from ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’? Well opening track ‘Bad Guy’ picks up further down the line of that story as the psychotic Matthew Mitchell seeks vengeance for his brother’s death, and ‘Legacy’ also stands out as Mathers reveals why he took up rapping in the first place. These tracks aside, it is hard to find other examples where both lyrical content and production see eye to eye. For instance, while Em’s energy is infectious on lead single ‘Berzerk’, Rick Rubin’s attempt at giving the song a vintage Hip-Hop feel comes across as a ‘Licenced To Ill’-era Beastie Boys wannabeat. Sadly, things get worse before they get better; ‘Stronger Than I Was’ finds Mathers favouring singing over rapping, and the less said about the Kendrick Lamar-featuring confusion of ‘Love Game’ the better.
It’s a shame to see, but the man who once introduced Hip-Hop to a generation is now playing catch-up, and is falling behind.
Words By James Barlow