Album Review

Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP2 ages decently after 10 years

Guess who’s back? He’s back again—Shady’s back with another cash grab. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of his eighth album, The Marshall Mathers LP2, Eminem has released another expanded edition, which only includes a bonus track and five instrumentals. I listened to the bonus material and to summarize them in a word—boring. So, I’m going to exclusively discuss the original album. I believe this record has aged like fine wine in an unkempt bathroom. It retains its quality overall, but some parts may deter you. There are tracks I enjoy, but others just push me away like a double positive magnet. The legacy created by this album (or perhaps solely one song) altered Eminem’s career more than Machine Gun Kelly’s.

In 2013, Eminem bleached his hair for the last time to show fans his foul-mouthed alter-ego Slim Shady was back. But it wasn’t until 2015 that I discovered Shady. The first two Eminem songs I ever heard were “Survival” and “Bezerk,” I know it's not your typical introduction to his music. These two tracks were some of the lead singles on The Marshall Mathers LP2. Both songs have a great, almost rock tone, similar to the Beastie Boys. I would label these two as not only the best the album has to offer but also as somewhat forgotten tracks due to being overshadowed by his other hits.

“Bad Guy” is the opening track and serves as a sequel song to “Stan” from the original The Marshall Mathers LP. “Stan” is about a fictional superfan—yes, that’s where the word comes from—who sends Eminem fan letters, getting increasingly more disturbed with every letter. “Bad Guy” is narrated by Stan’s younger brother, Matthew, now older, coming back to avenge his brother by kidnapping Eminem in his trunk and driving off a bridge. This track is another great narration song, something that made Eminem stand out in his early career.

The Marshall Mathers LP2 marked a significant milestone in Eminem’s career. The standout track from this album, “Rap God,” became a hit so big it remained popular for two years after its release. However, not all his fans were pleased with the creative direction he took with this song. From a technical standpoint, “Rap God” is impressive and showcases Eminem’s lyrical ability in a song that is extraordinarily unique. It even holds the Guinness World Record for most words in a hit single with 1,560 words. However, I contend that this song left a lasting mark on his future work, as every album released after The Marshall Mathers LP2 saw Eminem striving to replicate the success of “Rap God.” Rather than trying to craft clever bars in the 4/4 rap flow that initially propelled him to fame, he shifted his approach towards cramming as many words as possible into every second of each song. He tried attempting to find the next “Rap God” with songs such as “Offended,” “The Ringer,” and “Godzilla,” all of which didn’t reach the heights “Rap God” had. Ultimately, this goal led to the atrocious album that came afterward, Revival, which led to subsequent albums issuing apologies for its deficiencies.

To put it more formally, The Marshall Mathers LP2 does not stand out as an excellent record, but it doesn’t fall into the category of a bad one either. Its sound has remained relatively fresh after a decade. You certainly won’t lose your self-esteem upon hearing this album. Despite some hiccups and poor artistic choices, he’s always remained successful, with no hints Slim Shady will sit down anytime soon.