It seems like a decade since hip-hop was considered to be “dead” – well it’s nearly been a decade actually. Nas went so far to memorialize the genre on his 2006 album Hip Hop is Dead. Again, in 2013, we have a rap vet who takes a similar perspective that the genre has fallen on hard times due to playing up dumb, meaningless clichés. While it is arguable (depending on who you ask) whether Eminem is truly the “Rap God” as he asserts, what is true is that rap definitely has its less ‘artistic’ MC’s. In other words, rap has went so ‘stupid’ it’s gone plumb ‘dumb’! Sure, Eminem is known for his twisted sense of humor and irresponsible inappropriateness, but he does possess a gift for words, raw or not. Perhaps not as shocking as the original, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 definitely infuses an injection of creativity and artistry into the game. “God” may push it, but Em is definitely still an MC to beat.
“Bad Guy” unsurprisingly stars MMLP2 with a bang. Eminem holds nothing back, and we… well most of us wouldn’t have it any other way. “Can I hold grudges, mind is saying ‘let it go, f*ck this’ / heart is saying ‘I will, once I bury this b***h alive / hide the shovel and then drive off in the sunset’” (Notice I said ‘most of us’). As always, Eminem has some issues with women, much like he did back-when, and he basically admits it – or Sarah Jaffe does on the hook: “I flee the scene like it was my last ride / you see right through, oh you had me pegged the first time / you can’t see the truth but it’s easier to justify what’s bad is good / and I hate to be the bad guy, I just had to be the bad guy.” Even so, he’s still killing it: “I am your lack of a conscience / I’m the ringing in your ears / I’m the polyps on the back of your tonsils / eating your vocal cords after your concerts…” Yep, he’s a bad guy alright.
After the obligatory skit (“Parking Lot”), “Rhyme or Reason” samples “The Time of the Season”, incorporating that signature Eminem pop-rap. Here, Eminem is still dealing with his various issues, which started at the beginning apparently: “My mother reproduced like a Komodo dragon / and had me on the back of a motorcycle / the crashed in the side of locomotive with rap, I’m loco…” It’s perhaps nothing fans haven’t experienced in some way or the other, but still remains fascinating. “So Much Better” is just that, even more electrifying than the opening duo of full-length tracks. Women get no respect, whether its “…my d**k’s on strike so all that love sh*t is null and void / b***h I’m a droid, I void cupid stupid wasn’t for [use your imagination here] you’d be unemployed…” or “Getting sick of these girls, girls, girls / oink oink oink you f**king pigs…” But he atones for his irresponsibility, sorta at the end: “I’m just playing b***h, you know I love you…” Um…
“Survival” benefits from its old-school hip-hop sound, intact with guitar. The hook is simple but effective, courtesy of Liz Rodrigues: “This is survival of the fittest / this is do or die / this is winner takes it all / so take it all”. As for Em, he raps as if he has a chip on his shoulder for sure: “They say I was washed up, and got a blood bath / I’m not a rapper, I’m an adapter, I can adjust / Plus I can just walk up to a mic and just bust…” You need no chip on your shoulder Em, you (and us) already know you’re the shhh. “Legacy” goes autobiographical, stitched together by opening verse lyric “I used to be the type of kid that, would always think the sky is falling…” Basically, Eminem raps and brags about his ‘come up’: “…thought I was full of horse sh*t and now / you f**king worship the ground in which I am walking…” He also throws in a pretty cool football allusion too.
Still that “0 and 16 Lions offense” aside, Eminem and a guesting Skylar Grey know that Eminem is an “A–hole”. According to Grey’s hook, “everybody knows that you’re just an a–hole / everywhere that you go, people wanna go ‘oh everyone knows’”. If you had your doubts about Eminem’s a-hole status, well he confirms it: “So what if the insults are revolting / even Helen Keller knows life stinks…” (she was blind and deaf, not devoid of smell). After that, there’s no stopping Eminem with juggernauts “Berzerk” and of course the crown jewel, “Rap God”.