Eminem revisits the nostalgia of his arguably best album, “The Marshall Mathers LP” (“MMLP”), with “MMLP 2.”
Mathers has been careful in interviews to clarify that the album is just that, a re-visitation, and not so much a sequel or continuation of the 2000 album.
However, listeners do get somewhat of a Part 2 to the song “Stan” from “MMLP” with the opening track of “MMLP 2,” “Bad Guy.” In this song, Mathers raps from the viewpoint of Stan’s younger brother, Matthew Mitchell.
Mitchell is mentioned on the 13-year-old song “Stan” and is said to like Eminem even more than his older brother and is now out to kill the “cause of [his] problems.” Eminem.
Mathers matches the power of “Stan” on this seven minute opener in which Mitchell represents the people Eminem has hurt and offended in his career, getting revenge on him.
After “Bad Guy,” “MMLP 2” quite literally picks up where “MMLP” left off with a skit to continue the one on the final track on the older album. In this skit, titled “Criminal,” Eminem robs a bank and kills the teller despite promising not to.
Everyone knows it was not Eminem or Marshall Mathers who killed the innocent bank teller, but it was Slim Shady, the menace the world became enamored with ever since “My Name Is” and “The Slim Shady LP” in 1999.
In 2013, Mathers’ alter ego is alive and well. While many of the themes and vibes of the songs on “MMLP 2” reflect back to the first Mathers LP, it is clear we are hearing a more mature Eminem.
He is undoubtedly the same man with the same passion for hip-hop, but with a perspective that has developed for 13 years since “MMLP.”
However, he does not squelch the profane villain everyone has come to know and love (or hate). Rather, his whole persona has developed and what listeners hear is a more focused work that captures everything fans expect and more.
Eminem himself has criticized his albums “Encore” and “Relapse” as much as anybody, and he has mentioned in recent interviews that he thought those albums ended up being too silly and comedic. Comedy is an important part of Eminem’s charm, but he felt it dominated those albums.
In 2010, Mathers released the album “Recovery,” which redeemed the rapper’s pure lyrical ability. However, the overall tone of “Recovery” was very serious as it dealt with things like his tribulations with drug addiction and the death of his best friend and fellow rapper DeShaun “Proof” Holden.
“MMLP 2” sounds like what Eminem wanted to do in the “Encore” and “Relapse” era, but he may not have had the focus or inspiration he needed to get there at the time.
On this new album, Mathers has found a balance of lyrical wizardry, masterful production, humor and powerful emotions listeners have come to expect from the legendary emcee.