It's finally happened. The self-proclaimed "Rap God" had his album leaked today. The only version that has been released at the time of this post is the standard version of the album, which includes 16 tracks (1 skit), while the deluxe version will have another 5. If I'm being honest, my expectations for The Marshall Mathers LP 2 had gotten pretty low. I didn't necessarily love any of the 4 songs that Slim had released from the album and I was beginning to worry. If you shared some of the same thoughts as me, you can rest easy, the album does not disappoint. I decided that I needed to do a review for this album, considering how significant Eminem is in the rap game and how much hype there is for this album.
The LP opens up with "Bad Guy", a sequel to an earlier track of Eminem's, "Stan", in which a crazed fan sends him increasingly unsettling letters, but this time, it's his little brother who goes after Slim. I can't even explain how happy I was as I was listening to this song. It feels like a lifetime since I heard Eminem tell an emotional story through his songs, I had forgotten that there was still another rapper besides Kendrick Lamar that could be so lyrically dominating. The next song, "Rhyme or Reason", features Eminem venting about feelings he's been harboring from his past, this time about his father. This song is one of my favorites off the album. It features Eminem's hilariously dark lyrics that have been with him since the dawn of his career and masterful flow and songwriting ability including a long string of Star Wars wordplay. "So Much Better" is about an unknown girl who apparently cheated on Slim with Dre, Drake, and Lupe Fiasco. The song isn't as meaningful as the previous two, but still has great lyrics and a great beat to go along with it. "Survival" was the best song of the 4 that were released before the album. Unlike "Bezerk", I actually dig the heavy beat because it works so well with angry tone that Em uses in just about every line. "Legacy" is about Slim being bulied as a kid and how much his life has changed since he picked up the mic, and it's one of the more gloomy songs on the album. Unlike the previous tracks, the wordplay isn't so much humorous, and the beat is pretty somber itself. At times, the beat goes on for a while without Eminem changing his flow, making for some dull moments. However, this song is still solid and features a great chorus (artist unknown at time of post). "Everybody Knows" is a great example of someone who went a little too crazy with the production. I can't really enjoy this track all that much because the beat is so chaotic and intrusive. Add that to the fact that Skylar Grey drops a wack chorus and it makes this one of the weaker tracks on MMLP2. "Everybody Knows" is followed by the first single from the album, "Bezerk." This song is the sole reason that I was worried by the quality. Eminem says he's gonna "take it back to straight hip-hop" and then makes a track that sounds like a bad Beastie Boys rip off, which is not straight hip-hop. "Bezerk" is made up entirely of bad beats and cheesy lyrics. No doubt this is the worst song on the album. The first time I heard "Rap God", I wasn't a fan. I blame the opening line, "I'm beginning to fell like a rap god." The way Slim delivers that one line actually makes me cringe, and I have to listen to it in all 3 hooks, it almost ruined the song for me. However, I came back and gave it another chance and realized that this is some of the most dynamic flow I've heard on a beat in a while and has some pretty raw lyricism. Also, that 3rd verse is cray. "Brainless" is about some more of Eminem's childhood struggles, including the violent Detroit life he dealt with during his school years. The production on "Brainless" is probably the strongest on the album, using a keyboard to make a beat for Em to spit his bars on. "Stronger That I Was" is definitely a change in pace on the album. The powerful song is told from the point of view of his ex-wife Kim. While Eminem has insulted her on many of his songs, this song highlights him understanding where her pain is coming from. I'm not a huge fan of Eminem singing the first two verses, considering he's not a strong vocalist, but it definitely helped make this song a much more emotional one. "The Monster" is about the toll that fame has had on Eminem mentally. It's not that I necessarily didn't like this song when it was released a few days ago, but I was worried that a lot of the album would sound this much like pop. Luckily, this isn't the case. The song is undeniably catchy, but the lyrics just don't hold the same emotional resonance because the track sounds so upbeat. "So Far..." is one of the few optimistic songs from Slim. The beat for the song is an interesting choice, a guitar riff on a loop, but Em makes it work. The song continually samples the song "Life's Been Good" by Joe Walsh, helping to add to the feel-good vibe of the song. "Love Game" was the song I had been anticipating the most since the moment I saw the tracklist for one reason, Kendrick Lamar. I couldn't even fathom what would happen if you took the two best lyricists in the game right now and put them on one track. Surprisingly, the song is not emotional in anyway like I expected it to be, but that doesn't mean that it's not fantastic lyricism. The song is about a girlfriend that gets sick of her man and starts to cheat on him. It's definitely the funniest song on the album and also one of my favorites. But none of the songs on MMLP2 are as good as "Headlights." "Headlights" follows in the path of "Stronger Than I Was" as Eminem, who has been hostile to his mother in past songs, writes a beautiful love letter to her. Having been a single mom, their relationship was always strained and their constant arguments have done permanent damage to their relationship, but Slim uses the song as a way to make amends with her in an attempt to save their kindship. Eminem also brings Nate Reuss, the lead singer from fun., to provide vocals on two verses and the hook. This only helps to add to the emotional impact of this song, as Reuss also recently lost his mother and was heavily impacted by her death, as seen on just about every track in Some Nights. The last track on the album, "Evil Twin", is Eminem's way of fitting in some of his famous celebrity disses that seem to have been lacking from this album. He blames the controversial things he says on his evil twin and even says that he and his evil twin are the 3rd and 4th best rappers of all time, below Biggie and Pac. The song is solid, but it definitely doesn't feel like a wrap-up. Hopefully, the deluxe edition will include a better ending for the album.
Overall, this album far exceeded my expectations. It does have its low points, but Eminem is no doubt back and just as good as he was before. His wordplay, lyricism, and flow are what make this album. There are no standouts production-wise on MMLP2, which I am also hoping appears on some of the bonus tracks. Anyway, I'm not going to provide a link to the album leak, but if you're not comfortable with downloading MMLP2 for free, start getting excited for Nov. 5.