The Marshall Mathers LP 2

The Marshall Mathers LP 2

'Bad Guy' is perhaps the perfect opening for this album, as the tracks released before the collection as a whole were met with a lot of criticism for the use of homophobic slurs throughout.

Eminem of course cannot be considered an out-and-out homophobe - a very public friendship with gay singer Elton John and more recently, a statement to Rolling Stone where he stated he has "no issues with gay, straight, transgender at all." - should be proof enough to critics of that.

Of course, the language he chooses to use - prominent in his genre - will undoubtedly time and time again cause controversy, and it's that which he addresses in 'Bad Guy'.

Throwing back to his hit 'Stan', it's revealed that Marshall himself is being driven to his death by the character we met back in the first Marshall Mathers LP.

Hints are thrown that this is the end of his career, and it's hard not to think that this is a goodbye - a final album and signing off to his fans.

The 55-second 'Parking Lot' skit that comes after only backs up this point - Eminem sounds as if he shoots himself at the end of the clip, from which we can only draw one conclusion. Major fans will realise this is a continuation of the robbery that took place back in 'Criminal'.

Sampling The Zombies' 'Time Of Season', 'Rhyme Or Reason' is a little comical at first, with Eminem warping his voice to sound like Star Wars' Yoda. His target here is his father, bringing a sincere tone to the tune.

He's at his most vulnerable in 'So Much Better' - revealing he'll never love anyone again - while still remaining a dominant and powerful force - "my life would be so much better, if you'd just drop dead".

'Survival' - the second release from this LP and feature on the new Call Of Duty game - is a self-honouring track that states that while he may not be ready to take on the current rap climate or competition, he'll solidify his position in the industry off the back of his skills.

The next track - 'Legacy' - starts off surprisingly low-beat, and calm. Simple piano arrangements are accompanied with raindrops, as Eminem tells a childhood story giving some insight into what helped mould him into the character we see today.

Skylar Grey sounds a tad robotic and monotonous on 'A**hole', but Em's skill is at an all time high. "It's poetry in motion" he spits, and while his confidence may be mistaken for arrogance, it's one he's allowed - he's aware he's not to everyones taste, and he just doesn't care.

First single 'Berzerk' is surprisingly one of the weakest on the album. He pays tribute to 'classic' rap, but it's new Eminem that continues to impress with his evolution and progression as an artist.

'Rap God' is a gem - but while the super-fast rapping is something special to behold, the overbearing slurs do take away a little from the overall feel of the track.

Unfortunately, 'Brainless' is a little contradictory, where Marshall revisits his childhood of being bullied, but then shoots straight to the present to throw forward a stream of further gay slurs. You do have to wonder however if he's simply poking fun at himself - he isn't a stupid artist, and the title of the track may be an attack on himself for the 'brainless' hypocrisy so obviously present here.

Honesty and heartbreak is delivered through 'Stronger Than I Was', in a heartfelt note to an ex-partner that reflects on what could have been if they had stayed together.

Rihanna joins Eminem on yet another smash - 'The Monster' - and the pair show exactly how they were able to send 'Love The Way You Lie' so high on charts globally. This should be another major hit - it's really something quite special with one of the catchiest pop choruses for some time.

A bit of fun is displayed in 'So Far', sampling Joe Walsh's 'Life's Been Good' and proving that while Eminem can seem serious at times, he can also poke fun at his own immaturity while reworking classic lines from 'The Real Slim Shady'.

'Love Game' seems like a direct continuation of 'So Far', and features Kendrick Lamar while Em once again takes the reigns and laughs about the women he's had relationships with in the past - even Lamar gets in on the joking around. The pairs voices blend well together on a chorus that slightly borders on country - strange but effective.

Nate Ruess from fun. makes his presence known on this apology track - 'Headlights'. Admitting his mistakes and blaming the absence of his father for tearing him apart from his mother, he takes the time to say sorry for disregarding the emotions he may have evoked from his parent on previous vicious verses included in tracks such as 'Cleanin' Out My Closet'. It's an emotional and potent track, and a real extension of an olive branch.

Eminem has never said his rap persona is him as a person. It's for that reason he can be forgiven for the slurs, the abuse, the sexism - he's simply paving his way in an industry that at times can demand such things. 'Evil Twin' closes out the record, and sees Em embrace that persona that kicked off his career which has spanned a decade and a half.

It would be a sad affair if this was Eminem's last collection of new material. He's a master of his craft, and with only minor blips throughout this album, he's shown that he has exactly what it takes to remain at the top of his game, and the game as a whole now, and for many years to come.

'The Marshall Mathers LP 2' is out now.

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