“Marshall Mathers” sequel breaks new ground for Slim Shady

Photo courtesy of Billboard
Photo courtesy of Billboard

Special to the Tribune

Snap back to reality and oh—there goes Eminem on another exhausting tangent about his life.

Eminem returns this week with the new 16-song effort “The Marshall Mathers LP2.” The album follows up the Grammy winning “The Marshall Mathers LP” released back in May 2000 featuring the single “The Real Slim Shady.”

Fans waited through two more albums, “Relapse” in 2009 and “Recovery” in 2010, until they finally got their sequel, which turns out to be just as dark and twisted as the first.

The 41-year-old’s eighth studio album has more f-bombs and truly unfortunate homophobic jibes to count, but in classic Eminem fashion his rhyming technique is perfection. This is evident in the recent single “Rap God,” where he pulls out rhymes and lyrics that leave you wondering if you should feel disturbed or impressed with what is coming out of his mouth. Either way the song carries the quick pace and precise rhymes that made people love his lyrics since the real Slim Shady was politely asked to stand.

But the new album does have some songs that don’t seem to fit. On“Love Game,” featuring Kendrick Lamar the two rappers share verses about ex-girlfriends, while the 1965 song “Game of Love” by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders comes in the background. It isn’t the type of song you would expect from the duo. The song is a questionable move for Eminem and ultimately feels unmemorable and unnecessary for the album.

Eminem does take on more self-reflection throughout this album than on past efforts evident in songs like “The Monster” featuring Rihanna, about accepting the evilness that comes along with fame. “I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed/get along with voices inside my head.”

Eminem shows yet more reflection in the album opener “Bad Guy,” the album’s opener. Eminem raps about his biggest struggle—his conscience. The song is about how he “buries this chick alive/hides the shovel and drives off into the sunset.” Then his conscience takes over, and he realizes he doesn’t want to be the bad guy anymore. It wouldn’t be an Eminem album without a depressing storyline in at least one song.

But the major revelations in the album come when Eminem, once again, raps about his mother, a person he’s angrily and negatively discussed before, but this time he’s taking some of the blame. In his song “Headlights,” featuring fun. lead singer Nate Ruess, Eminem confesses his allegedly abusive mom most likely had it worse than he did. This painful confession can’t go unnoticed with such personal lyrics like, “I’m sorry, Mama, for ‘Cleanin’ Out My Closet,’ at the time I was angry/rightfully maybe so, never meant that far to take it though,/’cause now I know it’s not your fault.”

This dark and aggressive album has everything from Helen Keller jokes to deep revelations from Eminem’s past life. Through all of its distasteful and poignant moments, Eminem brings you again into the twisted mind of Marshall Mathers, a place that is certainly flawed, yet still manages to be complex and fascinating.