Don't call it a comeback, he never left

Eminem's latest LP brings rapper back to roots

It’s one thing to constantly sing about your past relationships — I’m looking at you, Taylor Swift. It’s something entirely different to create three alter egos and rap about them in a Yoda voice. But this is just the beginning of Eminem’s latest album “The Marshall Mathers LP 2.” The album is conceited, insane and at times downright annoying. It’s also utterly brilliant.

The now 41-year-old Eminem/Slim Shady/Marshall Mathers is going through anything but a midlife crisis. “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” is cocky and shows off the immense, albeit vulgar, talent that is Eminem.

“Marshall” covers anything and everything — “So Far…” is about the normal life Eminem could have lived in Detroit, “Berzerk” is a throwback to his classic style and party life, while “Rhyme or Reason” recounts his father and rap career. Eminem even briefly considers becoming sentimental on “Marshall” — in “Legacy,” he ponders his life with enigmatic lines like “Now you shut up b****, I am talkin’.”

What Eminem lacks in tact, he makes up for with wild lyrics and crazy rhymes that take you into every alley of pop culture, referencing just about everything from Chewbacca to Tupperware. The album includes an oddly chilling skit titled “Parking Lot.” With less than 50 words, Eminem sets up and follows a robbery scene with a twisted ending. It’s something different, and it refreshingly breaks from the pace of his typical fast-flowing, sharp-tongued lyrics.

That said, Eminem’s raps feel gimmicky at times, and he often plays up controversial issues just for effect. At one point he brings up the Colorado shootings and at another the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Before you can process it, though, Eminem has moved on to another rhyme, beat or recollection from his own life, giving listeners the sense that these socio-political scandals and tragedies serve just as flashpoints to draw outrage and attention.

The album is overtly about the man who created it. It’s an ode to himself and he knows it. “Brainless,” for instance, opens with multiple people saying his name, followed by a monologue about how insane Eminem is. His survival in the rap scene is chronicled in the song “Survival,” and you can probably guess what “Rap God” is about.

That’s not to say his music lacks meaning. His songs are overloaded with critiques of other rappers and political insinuations, his insights are just masked by his arrogance and vulgarity. Ultimately, this is a stylistic choice and, to paraphrase Miley, it’s his album — he can do what he wants. Though Eminem’s self absorbance gets irritating after a while, his blasphemous witticisms and clever wordplay never do.

related stories