This is a bit of late review with the album having been out for well over a month now but this is a such a high profile release that I can’t help but have my say. Eminem hasn’t really been on form since The Eminem Show which was way back in 2002. Since then he’s quit music and come back with two very mediocre albums and failed to make himself stand out in modern hip hop, after being the genre’s defining force when he was in his prime. This time out he opts to cash in on the success of one of his truly great albums with a sequel record.
One thing that remains apparent throughout The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is that Eminem still has one of the best flows in the business, his knowledge of the language and ability to bend any word to fit in with what he wants it to is pretty much unrivalled. This record is easily his best lyrically since The Eminem Show, as a matter of fact, there’s a case for this record having his best rhymes ever from a technical perspective. On the single Rap God he spits faster than even Busta Rhymes could dream of. The problem is though that despite his lyrical prowess there is something lacking from the new reformed Eminem, something that’s been missing for over a decade. He’s far too obsessed with poorly written, trashy hooks which are made even worse by his dreadful singing voice, his last album, Recovery, was riddled with them to the point where it was almost unlistenable, TMMLP2 contains a number of these too, the aforementioned Rap God containing one of the worst of the lot. The record feels confused as to what it wants to be, at times it breaks new ground and gives Eminem’s superior rhymes a breath of fresh air with production that strips things back to basics and adds an edgy bite to his lines, the best of which probably being Survival. Whereas other tracks make the same mistakes as Recovery did trying too hard to be a chart topping success lazy and uninteresting beats and, in doing so, not making the most of what Eminem’s best at: rapping. See the Rihanna featuring Monster for an example of this.
Overall this record is easily the best Mathers has come out with since his comeback and it beats Encore too, but this is still not the Eminem of old. There’s a bit more of the angry, bitterness that littered his early and best material but it’s much more forced and lacks the authenticity he once had. It seems he’s confused as to what he wants to do and too much like he’s making music to be successful than as a release of emotions. The track with Kendrick Lamar is a massive disappointment too.