“Eminem killed by Eminem.” A classic line from Marshall’s newest album. I think everyone my age remembers around the time when “The Eminem Show” came out and our parents sat us down to have a talk about how we were not in anyway allowed to listen to Eminem. I remember my mom saying to me “Stephanie, you are not allowed to listen to him. He swears, is rude to women, and hates his mom.” Well, just like Shady, if you tell someone not to do something, they’re going to do everything in their power to give into temptation. One thing you have to give Eminem is that he is always honest. I mean, he’s basically shared his whole life story with the world and never regretted it. And we all know that his story isn’t an easy one to hear about so it certainly can’t be easy for him to tell.
So, when he announced the release of his newest project, a sequel to his hugely successful “Marshall Mathers LP” (arguably his best album by critics and fans alike), it was easy to automatically think Em was selling out and killing himself off. Why does everyone always doubt him? “LP 2” won’t match the gold that was the first, but we should know by now that Shady is going to get pretty damn close. Listening to the sequel you can tell that Em’s matured but at the same he still says things to piss my mom off. In songs like “So Much Better” he sings “My life would be so much better if you would just drop dead.” Ouch. Sounds like the dude that used to make fun of Christina Aguilera in the early 2000s right? Wrong. What’s different this time is that when you listen to the tracks you hear the reasons behind the anger that might have been overlooked 10 years ago. That’s why my generation understood what Eminem was doing way before the rest of the world caught up.
There’s the usual Shady anthems specifically made for radio and singing (I mean yelling) in your car. “Berzerk” samples the Beastie Boys (who by the way, did what Em did back in the 80s. That ones for my brother who seems to think Rick Ross created modern rap.) and Billy Squier’s “The Stroke,” which seems to be popping up everywhere lately. There’s tracks like “Survival” and “The Monster” (one of the album’s best) that will surely get plenty of radio play (it’s easy to blurt all the swearing out of them too). Em’s got to make a few songs for singles so the public and the media will be satisfied. The real gems on his albums are reserved to the fans who actually take the time to enjoy them.
Also, is it just me or does Shady really got it going on with the ladies with this album? I mean, girls love him (sorry mom), but he’s got Rihanna and Skylar Grey always hanging around. Am I the only one who thinks Marshall needs a girlfriend (sorry mom)? Anyways, once you get past his collaborations and the ridiculous “Rap God,” there are some classic tracks that only Eminem can pull off. “Legacy” almost acts as a continuation of the smash “Stan” from the original “LP.” “Brainless” calls out media that has said that Eminem is a dangerous person without any brain (how old is that idea?) and has a perfect sample from “Superbad” (you know the movie). The song “Stronger Than I Was” is basically self explanatory and is probably the type of song that makes the original Eminem fandom cringe. I personally like this “new Eminem.” He’s matured and evolved as an artist, which is what we all want from our musical heroes and what I fear that Gaga’s “ArtPop” won’t be able to do when it drops next week.
The song “So Far…” is a classic example of Eminem having a little fun. It sounds like a combination of a Beastie song with a chaotic Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar lick. It’s absolutely wonderful. Then there’s the subtle “Asshole” where Shady sings “I came to the world at a time when it was in need of a villain.” No truer statement has ever been spoken/rapped. Girlfriend Skylar Grey (come on guys!) is also featured on the track. “Love Game” is a brilliant collaboration with Kendrick Lamar (I’m going to have my brother explain him to me) that kind of sounds like a sound from “Shrek.” AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT “HEADLIGHTS” WITH NATE RUESS?! The combination of FUN. and Marshall? Are they trying to kill me? It’s a deep song calling out his relationship with his mother once again. This time he even admits at times that he’s gone too far. See? He’s grown so much like we all knew he would.
There’s the sick and twisted songs that we’ve come to expect from Shady, too. “Evil Twin” makes several interesting comments about Sarah Palin and the idea that “whatever the fallout, I’m strapped for battle.” Although he’s changed so much, he’s also that same old Marshall we fell in love with while secretly hiding his albums from our parents (sorry mom). “Desperation” is another “Ass Like That” without the outdated references and it’s wonderful.
Verdict? SO worth the wait. Love him or hate him, Eminem has a way with words and there’s much more to him than 8 Mile, even if he hasn’t realized it yet himself. He makes meaningful music to help himself and us figure out our feelings. Maybe he’s said some interesting and downright horrible things, but he’s got a lot more to offer when you actually stop and listen to the story he’s trying to tell you. It takes a strong person to make music about his misery and hope that you can get something out of it. And if we can accept Miley then we can accept the man that paved the way for her to twerk everywhere. As Marshall says, “Let me take you by the hand to promise land and threaten everyone because there’s no rhyme or no reason for nothing.”