Sequels to classic material within music and movies have always been a gamble. There have been incidents where sequels were better and actually surpassed the classic (Terminator 2). But for every classic movie with a great sequel, There have been many with horrible ones(Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and other cheesy horrible movies). But within hip hop culture, It’s truly a whole different playing field.
When it was announced that Eminem announced that there was gonna be a sequel to his 2000 near classic album The Marshall Mathers LP, The anticipation went through the roof. Eminem even went back and dyed his hair back blonde this time around, giving the indication that he’s going back to that wild, crazy, Mr Don’t Give a Fuck persona that pushed all buttons, pissed off pro righteous groups and made fun of pop stars in the process.
Well if you’re expecting the Eminem who popped pills, killed his baby’s mother, Threatened the slash his mother with a Jason mask or any of that horrorcore dark shit from the processor then you’re gonna be very disappointed. But that doesn’t mean that the MMLP 2 isn’t a great album. Eminem still revisits shady and gives flashes of that crazy Em on the album’s first track Bad Guy. The Content may not be as brutal as that of Kill You, The Way I am or Amityville but he’s still spitting fiercely similar to how he did. He’s not doing none of those silly accents or focusing more on his flows and less off content like he did with that god awful Encore album either. The Parking lot skit that follows it came across as another tease of the old Slim Shady reminisces of the classic track Criminal.
Throughout the MMLP You can sense flashes of the old Eminem as he references to Stan and at times go back to the old flows that we know and heard from Em in the past. But he also showcases more maturity than we ever heard from him on record. When listening to songs like Rhyme and Reason, Asshole, and So Much Better, He comes across as a man who seen the error of his behavior and how he wants to change for the better. The problem with these songs is production wise, They don’t hit you automatically like songs in the pass. They could have desperately used a Dre beat for Eminem to bare his soul. But they’re not bad songs by any means because its interesting to see how Eminem’s viewpoint of life seemed to have changed.
Of course there are songs thats aimed for the Top 40 billboard crowd thats gonna leave alot of fans who loved Eminem for the No Hold Bars content that was showcased throughout the first MMLP scratching their heads. Monsters featuring Rihanna may have been one of the worst songs Eminem has done in his career but it maybe the single to push Eminem plat the first week. It doesn’t even fare any better as Eminem attempts to sing on Stronger Than I Was which would make a Drake song sound like an old school Triple 6 Mafia cut.
But despite those mishaps, There pros over weigh the cons throughout the MMLP 2 as he continues to show why he’s possibly one of the best technical lyricists of all time. Rap God and Survival are two of my personal favorites throughout where he’s letting his peers know that despite his age and how long he been away, He can still assassinate your favorite rapper on a track. Survival has similar elements to Till I Collapse where he executes that high pitch yelling flow to the T. Rap God is even more impressive as he shows that he’s been stepping up to show that he has the technical aspect of emceeing and even paid homage to the girl group JJ Fad from Ruthless by showcasing the same flow from their classic SuperSonic(Young heads aren’t gonna know about that).
Even though I thought it was silly at first and came across as a over-produced mess, Bezerk after hearing it throughout sporting events and bars across the globe ended up growing to me and became a favorite of mines. I love the old school Beastie Boys throwback feel that Rubin gave the track and Eminem’s flow is still there in spite of some of the silly shyt that he may say throughout some of the track. The flow is there and its a great ode to the old school hip hop he grew up listening too. So Far may throw people off as too “redneck” or ‘white trash” but if you listen theres elements of the old silly Slim Shady there. Especially when they snipped a bit of the Real Slim Shady.
Kendrick Lamar is the only guest appearance on the album(Hip hop wise) and thats usually a positive because Eminem is talented enough to carry a whole album. People going in expecting a hardcore, Alchemist produced hip hop produced banker is gonna be in for a surprise because the track coming in doesn’t even sound hip hop. Matter of fact if you’re a true music fan then you’ll know that they sampled the Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders’ 1965 hit “Game of Love which was in the hit movie Grease.
Many hip hop heads would probably be left scratching their head wondering what the hell is this, But throughout if you continue to listen then you would witness a hip hop sparring session between the season veteran and the young bull. Kendrick has been on a mission since Control to prove that he’s one of the best rappers of this generation.
K.Dot here lyrically gives Eminem a run for his money on his verse which forced Em to go Ali on him on the 3rd verse. This would be a special moment seeing that the young prospect trading verses with the vet and trying to out-do him. It’s very rare in today’s game where rappers are content of just doing features instead of out spitting them. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more from these two.
The album’s most surprising moment and possibly the most heartfelt was Headlights where he DEDICATES to his mother in a positive fashion. Em pens his mother an emotional apology for the tracks that he put out spewing the hatred and broke down his reasoning behind going at her like he did. He also expresses regrets for his actions and tries to rebuild the estranged relationship they had. This would have been the perfect way to close the album because it showed that Rabbit has officially grew up.
Many may complain about the way he closed the album with Evil Twin because of the heart-felt tribute to his mother but I thought it was a great way because he’s reflecting about his status in the game in reminisces of the old Slim Shady showing that he can be that villain and plays with the wordplay of rapping as different alter egos. The content may not be as wicked as any of the tracks from the previous sequel but he shows that he can still spit hard with the best of them here and throughout this album.
Overall You have to really be in a sort of mood to digest alot of Eminem’s music. His music isn’t for the whip or meant in many cases to be a club banger. I felt that the album considering it supposed to be a sequel to the raw MMLP as bit of a disappointment. None of the songs smack you instantly off the head like Kill You, The Way I Am or Remember Me and take some time to really grow to you.
He should have actually named it the Recovery II because most of the tracks come across as him continuing that route to Recovery and continuing going the mature route. Instead the album comes across as Marshall revisiting his old home 14 years older and reflecting on regrets and putting down his past behavior. Despite it feeling like he named it the MMLP II to regain interest from old fans, This is STILL a very solid offering showing that Eminem regardless of how you feel is possibly one of the best rappers in the world today. The bonus tracks themselves are worth the price of admission as well!
Vic Rating: 8 outta 10(with bonus tracks)