“Berzerk” is true to its title – it’s BESERK! “We’re gonna rock this house until we knock it down / so turn the volume loud, cause it’s mayhem ‘til the A.M. / so baby make just like K-Fed and let yourself go…life’s too short to not go for broke / so everybody, everybody (go berserk)” Eminem is definitely in ‘rare form’ and rides the Billy Squier sample of “The Stroke” like a champ. He gets his ever potent one-liners in including “But I done did enough codeine to knock Future into tomorrow…” and “sh*t-head with a potty mouth, get a bar of soap lathered”, both courtesy of verse three.
If “Bezerk” is awesome, “Rap God” is freaking epic. The hook varies slightly, but the beginning’s the same: “I’m beginning to feel like a rap god, rap god / all my people from the front to the back nod, back nod…” Across three verses Eminem ‘schools’ us. On verse one he touts his flow (“Made a living and a killing off it / ever since Bill Clinton was still in office / With Monica Lewinsky feeling on his [again use your imagination] / I’m an MC still as honest / but as rude and as indecent as all hell”) while on verse two he talks influences and disses sucky MC’s (“Everybody want the key and the secret to rap immortality like I have got / well, to be truthful the blueprint’s simply rage and youthful exuberance … hit the earth like an asteroid, did nothing but shoot for the moon since”). On verse three, he goes “H*A*M*”, ripping critics, skeptics, and some fans (“Innovative and I’m made of rubber / so that anything you say is ricocheting off of me and it’ll glue to you / I’m devastating, more than ever demonstrating / how to give a motherf*****’ audience a feeling like it’s levitating)”. Lady Gaga said it best… “Eh, there’s nothing else I can say.” (See How Eminem Devastates the Competition on “Rap God” for full, in depth analysis).
After being a savant of sorts, Eminem has now become “Brainless”: “…I’m a use my head as a weapon / find a way to escape this insaneness / mama always said ‘Son if you had a brain, you’d be dangerous’ / guess it pays to be brainless”. As expected, Eminem let’s it roll whether tis references to being a “space cadet”, “Tourette’s”, or “look[ing] like a freaking wuss, a p***y…” My favorite lyric has to be from verse three: “I’m ‘bout to clean house, yo / I’m Lysol, now I’m just household / outsold the sell outs, freak the hell out / Middle America, hear them yell out…”
“Stronger Than I Was” sports more of a ballad-like rap sound with a harmonic progression that is more pop/R&B rivaling. The vocal production itself sounds more like Recovery’s hit single “Not Afraid” if one is searching for a comparison. “But you won’t break me / you’ll just make me stronger than I was / before I let you, I bet you I’ll be just fine without you,” he sings on the hook. “And if I stumble, I won’t crumble / I’ll get back up ad uh / and I’m a still be humble when I scream f*ck you / cause I’m stronger than I was…” The biggest rub? Length. “The Monster” atones for that, clocking in at just over four minutes and receiving the assist from Em’s buddy Rihanna. Perhaps it’s not quite on the same plane as say “Rap God” or maybe even previous collaboration “Love the Way You Lie”, but it gives Eminem another commercial hit sure to hit home more with a pop audience than a hardcore rap one.
“So Far…” continues to show Eminem on autopilot, criticizing technology of all things: “My apologies, no disrespect to technology / but what the heck is all these buttons / you expect me to sit here and learn that / f*ck I gotta do to hear this new song from Luda? / be an expert at computers…” Old soul / old-school perhaps? He gets a brilliant assist from Kendrick Lamar, which must be a testament to how Eminem feels about the young west coast MC’s rapping. As remarkable as Eminem’s own twisted rhymes are, what is equally remarkable is Lamar’s versatility to match Eminem’s intensity on his guest verse: “Chlamydia couldn’t even get rid of her / Pity the fool that pity the fool in me, I’m a live with the game of…” Still, hard to top Eminem: “…Snatch that b***h out her car through the window, she screamin’ / I body slam her onto the cement, until the concrete gave and created a sinkhole / bury this stink-ho in it, and payed to have the street repaved…” OUCH!
Penultimate gem “Headlights” brings in fun. frontman Nate Ruess who proves to be yet another excellent collaborator with Eminem. He initiates with a bang, in the spirit of the Detroit MC: “Mom, I know I let you down / and though you say the days are happy / why is the power off, and I’m f**ked up?…” Eminem essentially seems to backpedal from his hatred of his mother some: “… Now I now it’s not your fault, and I’m not making jokes / that song I no longer play at shows and I cringe every time it’s on the radio…” Closer “Evil Twin” contrasts the brighter sounding “Headlights” with maliciousness – and who would expect an Eminem album to end any other way? Even if Eminem shows more maturity, who doesn’t want to hear the side of his “evil twin” since “This darkness comes in me / and comes again / that ain’t me / he’s just a friend who pops up now and again…”
The verdict? There will never be another The Marshall Mathers LP; that’s a certified rap classic that both changed and devastated the game. That said, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 definitely kicks plenty of the young rap MC’s butts, no questions asked. It definitely runs long at 80 minutes, but at least it’s a superb 80 minutes with no filler whatsoever. Em, you get my blessings…not in a blasphemous way though!
“So Much Better”; “Survival”; “Berzerk”; “Rap God”; “The Monster”; “Love Game”; “Headlights”
Eminem | The Marshall Mathers LP 2 | Aftermath | US Release Date: November 5, 2013