Friday, November 8, 2013

A review of Eminem's "The Marshall Mathers LP 2: Deluxe Edition"


I was looking forward to Eminem's next album after 2010's "Recovery", and he kinda surprised me by naming this album "The Marshall Mathers LP 2". Needless to say, my expectations going into this one were slightly high. I will admit that when I heard "Berzerk" I wasn't impressed, but that didn't make me look forward to the album less. A few other singles ("Rap God", "Survival" and the Rihanna assisted "The Monster") were released over the last few weeks prior to the album's release, but I decided to wait until I bought the album to get my first listen. I copped this on the day of its release and the one question I have is how will this hold up not only to his previous albums, but to its classic predecessor. We shall see!

Release date- November 5, 2013



All songs produced by Eminem unless noted otherwise


THE OPENER

1. Bad Guy
Produced By: S1, M-Phazes and StreetRunner

This opener had the makings of an epic, but it's very good, sort of a storyline driven song. Vintage Eminem? I think so.
4 out of 5



2. Parking Lot (skit)

3. Rhyme Or Reason

This is the first of quite a few songs on the album that find Em signing. I *think* I got what he was going for here, which was basically laughs mixed in with a serious vibe.
3 out of 5

4. So Much Better

I took this song as Em saying his life is so much better without former wife Kim, and it's definitely NOT the sequel to "Kim" from the first "Marshall Mathers" album. Then at the end he says "I'm just playin b****, you know I love you". In my Redman voice, "whateva man", lol. Let's move on.
2.5 out of 5

5. Survival
Produced By: DJ Khalil

On this rock infused track, survival of the fittest and winners take all are the themes here, with an overly aggressive Em coming through. Or is he trying too hard? Either way, I like this one.
4 out of 5

6. Legacy

Em takes a descriptive look at his childhood from his adult perspective and analyzes why he's "wired differently" from everyone else, which has directly or indirectly brought him to where he is today.
4 out of 5

7. Asshole 
Featuring Skylar Grey

Quite apply titled, Em's lyrical actions would apparently show he's being just that on the track. That's really all I have to say about it.
2.5 out of 5

8. Berzerk
Produced By: Rick Rubin

Oh man, even with the Beastie Boys ("The New Style" & "Fight For Your Right") and Billy Squier ("The Stroke"), this song is all over the place, lyrically and production wise. Quite berzerk indeed.
1.5 out of 5

9. Rap God
Co-Produced By: DVLP and Filthy

Em's flow on this one can't be denied. I liked the alarming speed he was flowing in and lyrically he was bringing it. I also liked the way he utilized Hotstylz' "Lookin Boy", a song I didn't like back in 2007 but Em kills it. The beat seems a little busy, but it works. Arguably the best song on the album.
4.5 out of 5

10. Brainless

I'm not really sure what to say about this song honestly. It's ok, and this is no insult/jab at Em, but it left me wondering whether it was either incredibly brilliant or incredibly stupid.
2.5 out of 5

11. Stronger Than I Was

Why oh why did Em choose to sing for the majority of this song? This is one of those songs that could've been MUCH better than what it was, but the singing brings this down a lot. My score is based largely on Em's rapped verse.
1.5 out of 5

12. The Monster
Featuring Rihanna
Produced By: Frequency

After listening to this one three times, I like it a little bit more than I did when I first played it. The Em/Rihanna duo may be different to some, but the chemistry is there and I feel that's why Em likes to collaborate with her. I actually like this more than "Love The Way You Lie". Sure, the subject of Em dealing with the pressures of fame and everyday life are nothing new, but this song is not as bad as you may have been lead to believe. Of course it's tailor made for the radio, which is the point. I also shook my head at Em's yodeling like most of you probably did. 
3 out of 5 

13. So Far

This joint right here is all over the place. It's unique as hell to be sure.
2.5 out of 5

 14. Love Game
featuring Kendrick Lamar

You know, on paper, this seemed like one of those can't miss songs, but instead this is a miss. I was expecting maybe two verses from Em and a monster verse from Kendrick, a back and forth type song, something other than what we got. It's almost as if they were going for laughs here rather than a memorable collaboration. Then again, I feel it'll be memorable for all the wrong reasons.
2 out of 5

15. Headlights
featuring Nate Ruess

This is an apology to Em's mom, essentially for that "Cleaning Out My Closet" song from the "Eminem Show" album. Thinking back to that song, it was something else and I'm still a little surprised it got the radio spins it did. This song is good, however, while I understand Em's frustration with the estranged relationship with his mom (it is certainly that), he comes off more like he's trying too hard to apologize (or maybe it's just me). I kinda view "Cleaning Out My Closet" in a different light now.
3.5 out of 5

16. Evil Twin
More vintage Em on this closer, just look at the title, appropriately titled too.
3.5 out of 5

DELUXE BONUS DISC

1. Baby

Em was a lil busy on this one. Apparently this is what happens when Shady is pushed in a corner.
3 out of 5

2. Desperation
Produced By: Alex Da Kid

I had to take my time with this one, but I thought it was decent. I also thought the singing was a distraction at first, but it adds to the song in a way.
3 out of 5

3. Groundhog Day
Produced By: Cardiak

 Everyday is like a "holiday", is that what Em was aiming for? Em does flow nicely over Cardiak's Dre esque beat.
3.5 out of 5

4. Beautiful Pain
Produced By: Emile Haynie
Co-Produced Eminem

Familiar territory for Em on this apply titled song. It's the best of the 5 deluxe bonus tracks.
4 out of 5

5. Wicked Ways
Produced By: Alex Da Kid

Another apply titled song like this could've shaved off about 1 min or two. It's definitely unique to say the least.
3 out of 5



I'll begin my final thoughts by giving this album a fairly solid 3.5 star rating. I won't go any higher or lower for it, respectively, especially after 4 listens. At this point in Em's career, what you hear (and see) is what you get. In no way was this album a worthy sequel to its predecessor, although it's fair to say that Em hints at it throughout this album. Also, he basically admitted in the opener that he titled it "MMLP2" just to get people to buy it, and I'm not sure if that was a smart move or not. The production is about what you would expect, a cross between good, busy and ok-ish. Lyrically and content wise, Em is aggressive, introspective, apologetic, outlandish, controversial, funny and arrogant all at the same time. I'll also say that his wordplay was very good, but you'd really have to sit down and take your time with the album in order to catch the majority of the lines. Speaking of the content, there's a lot of sung hooks on this album, and while that is not a necessarily a bad thing, for an Eminem album, it's quite different especially when Em is behind some of those hooks. The Deluxe bonus tracks could've replaced a few of the songs on the album itself and they played a small part in my final rating. You'll also notice that there were no major features (outside of Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna) and no production from Dre. Those things didn't make or break the album, but they are notable to say the very least.

How does this album "stack up" to the rest of this discography? Well, that's easy. It's NOWHERE NEAR the level of the first "Marshall Mathers LP", "The Slim Shady Show" or "The Eminem Show". It's better than "Encore" without a doubt, it's not better than "Relapse-Refill". And "Recovery"? Well, in a way he kinda picks up where that album left off, and truth be told, this very well could've been a sequel to it and right now, this album and "Recovery" are probably neck and neck.

Overall, if you accept this album for what it is (as well as accepting where Em is in his career) and eliminate any and all comparisons to the first "MMLP", it's a good album. Try not to go into this album looking for anything resembling the quality of "MMLP" because you're simply not going to get it. I'll give this a slight recommendation and if you're still on the fence even after reading this review, listen to it before you buy it.

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