The Score: The Marshall Mathers LP 2 - "Eminem Could Use A Publicity Stunt & MMLP2 Is Just What The Therapist Ordered"

Tuesday, Nov 5, 2013 5:00PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

THE SCORE
THE SCORE 8/10
Buy Now
  • Eminem, Shady Records
  • The Marshall Mathers LP 2
  • November 5, 2013
Chicago Tribune 2/4
Los Angeles Times 3/4
New York Daily News 4/5
Rolling Stone 4/5
USA Today 3.5/4

After months of mounted anticipation, Shady Records head Eminem's return to store shelves has arrived courtesy of today's long-awaited release, The Marshall Mathers LP 2.

From fighting through drug addiction and rapping about redemption, Em delivers his most sober solo effort since 2010's Recovery.

Eminem could use a publicity stunt, and The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is just what the therapist ordered. During the 13 years since The Marshall Mathers LP, he's never lost his acrobat-gremlin skills on the mic. But some subsequent albums felt hermetic, perverting rage into rock-star griping on 2004's Encore, horror-show shock tactics on 2009's Relapse and 12-step purging on 2010's Recovery. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is about reclaiming a certain freewheeling buoyancy, about pissing off the world from a more open, less cynical place; he even says sorry to his mom on "Headlights," where he's joined by Nate Ruess of fun. (Rolling Stone)

Even at the ripe ol' age of 41, Shady reminds fans of his 2000 release with familiar targets like the Backstreet Boys.

The rapper has said the new album isn't a sequel to the earlier set so much as a "revisitation" of its themes: his relationships with his mother and his ex-wife, for instance, and the toxic effects of celebrity. Yet he hardly made an effort to avoid the throwback tag, with jokes about Monica Lewinsky and the Backstreet Boys, as well as sizable samples of well-worn hits by the Zombies, Joe Walsh and Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders. (Los Angeles Times)

Today's "Rap God" provides fans with an array of themes and topics on MMPL2 from heartbreak to open apologies.

At least that would seem so if Em weren't so brilliant at being an angry mess unable to let the past go. For what it's worth, he has made a few strides. In "Headlights" he briefly forgives his mother while in "Stronger Than I Was" he offers his most positive sentiments. Tellingly, they're the CD's two dreariest pieces. Em is far more thrilling in a cut like "A--hole," where he spins head-turning raps over a cool drum line. Likewise, in "Love Game" his interplay with guest Kendrick Lamar features some of the most dense wordplay in rap history. The cut also boasts yet more fresh switchups in Em's flow, already one of the most agile and changeable instruments in hip hop. In the last song, "Evil Twin," Em goes as far as he can with his anti-charm campaign, stating that he and his odious alter ego are one and the same. As always, it's more complicated than that. But the fact remains that, for Eminem, resentment, vengeance and fear are not just his shtick but also his muse. (New York Daily News)

Although not as packed as previous efforts, Slim recruits some notable guest features like Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar.

At least that would seem so if Em weren't so brilliant at being an angry mess unable to let the past go. For what it's worth, he has made a few strides. In "Headlights" he briefly forgives his mother while in "Stronger Than I Was" he offers his most positive sentiments. Tellingly, they're the CD's two dreariest pieces. Em is far more thrilling in a cut like "A--hole," where he spins head-turning raps over a cool drum line. Likewise, in "Love Game" his interplay with guest Kendrick Lamar features some of the most dense wordplay in rap history. The cut also boasts yet more fresh switchups in Em's flow, already one of the most agile and changeable instruments in hip hop. In the last song, "Evil Twin," Em goes as far as he can with his anti-charm campaign, stating that he and his odious alter ego are one and the same. As always, it's more complicated than that. But the fact remains that, for Eminem, resentment, vengeance and fear are not just his shtick but also his muse. (USA Today)

Despite overwhelmingly positive reviews, some critics noted a few weaknesses on Em's newest LP.

As always, Eminem keeps flipping between his alter egos, a means of demonstrating his technical ability - he even nails Yoda's knotted syntax in the "Star Wars"-referencing "Rhyme or Reason" - but also of putting some psychic distance between the real-life man and his often-horrific words. There are lots of those here, as in the harshly homophobic "Rap God" and "So Much Better," in which a breathless narrator unloads against an ex by tweaking one of Jay Z's hits: "I got 99 problems and a bitch ain't one / She's all 99 of 'em, I need a machine gun." (Los Angeles Times)
Eminem also recycles his own past: "Legacy" reprises the formula for "The Marshall Mathers LP"-era hit "Stan" with introspective rhymes tied to a female vocal hook, and Rihanna comes back for Round 2 after her 2010 hit with Eminem, "Love the Way you Lie," on the similarly dark "The Monster." For any pop star, the past is a final refuge. On "The Marshall Mathers LP2," Eminem tries to cover up his retreat by doing cartwheels and back-flips with his rhymes. (Chicago Tribune)

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