Eminem’s ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2’: Review Revue
Call it a sequel, call it a comeback, call it a reminder, but one thing you can’t call Eminem‘s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is half-assed. The Detroit MC hasn’t sounded this focused since the mid-aughts, and subsequently listeners got an unrelenting rap assault, with rhymes coming at you like waves, and hooks getting completely lost at sea, sucked into each song’s lyrical whirlpool. Because this album is so clearly more focused on assonance than artistry, and more about the medium than the message, it all strangely works.
In my review, I argued that Em delivered a hyper-meta “piece of verbal origami folding in on itself inside a hall of mirrors,” and concluded, “What the rap genius has done is construct an immersive and exhausting Slim Shady scavenger hunt for the Rap Genius generation.” Elsewhere, MMLP2 is receiving very positive reviews — but there’s one particularly scathing critique hiding among all the praise. Head below to see our roundup of reviews.
:: SPIN geeked out about MMLP2, scoring it an 8/10 and declaring Eminem “the greatest rapper alive.” “This is basically a 79-minute ‘Oh, yeah?’ response to Kendrick’s ‘Control’ verse — and handily the best one yet… We get rhymes. So many rhymes. More rhymes than some rappers manage in a whole career.”
:: Rolling Stone‘s glowing 4-star review posits the album “is about reclaiming a certain freewheeling buoyancy, about pissing off the world from a more open, less cynical place.”
:: Noisey called it “the album every Eminem stan’s been waiting for” and heaped on the praise: “I don’t think my jaw closed for a high majority listening through this album, consistently finding myself laughing out loud, pleased, shocked, and at times, emotional… The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is the best possible thing that Eminem could have put out.”
:: HipHopDX scored it a 4/5, but the reviewer was still pretty rough on the LP. “The album would have been much better served by Em spending more time crafting song concepts than he did on his über-complex rhyme schemes.”
:: XXL lauded MMLP2‘s sonic diversity. “[This is] much more diverse than any of his other albums… But the thing that carries Em through is the diversity of his flows, and his ability to rap over anything, regardless of if you think it could be done.”
:: Consequence of Sound handed out a 3.5/5. “What makes MMLP2 a success is that it sounds like Em is having a ton of fun with his craft, with no particular chip or devil on his shoulder… This one’s nostalgic in all the right ways, a worthy look back at the LP that made him the world’s most popular cult figure.”
:: The L.A. Times enjoyed the effort, saying it “demonstrates how singular a presence Eminem at 41 remains.” “Eminem sounds more alive – angrier, yet more fully present – than he has in years… even in his rare clunky moments, Eminem burns with purpose on MMLP2.”
:: Slant Magazine scored it a respectable 3/5, calling the album “a 79-minute ventriloquist’s act, one more ambitious, in delivery and ego, than anything since 2002’s The Eminem Show,” while concluding, “The guy used to be funnier.”
:: Pitchfork was unimpressed, levying a 4.7/10 score. “MMLP2 once again finds him at a loss for how to apply his talents. For three albums in the early aughts he devilishly rewrote the rules of pop music to shoehorn hip-hop into the national spotlight, but here he’s winded, struggling to keep up with modern pop conventions… Eminem’s too talented a rapper with too good a Rolodex for this to flop, but damned if Marshall Mathers LP 2 doesn’t give it a go.”
:: Our pals at Stereogum, though, absolutely laid into the album. “My favorite moment of my first listen to the album came when I accidentally unplugged my desktop speakers and I got a few seconds of sweet, glorious, crystalline silence,” the reviewer writes. “Em was once rap’s giddiest, most inventive stylist, and now he’s a sad echo of a long-dead self. So listen to The Marshall Mathers LP 2, in its 80-minute endlessness, as endurance-test noise music. Or, better yet, don’t listen to it at all.” Woof.
A little extra on Eminem’s new LP: