Declaring Marshall Law.
Guess who's back? Yep, that's right. Remember back in 2002 when Jay-Z excused us miss on the sequel to his classic hip-hop, landmark album 'The Blueprint' and told us that "only dudes movin' units-Em, Pimp Juice and us"? Well more than a decade later this last month has seen the release of Nelly ('M.O') and now Eminem's latest albums to go along with the hip-hop crowning year of Jay-Z's mega 'Magna Carta Holy Grail' album. With a sublime sequel to his own classic series that birthed the new millennium, Eminem returns to the center stage of the rap arena with 'The Marshall Mathers LP 2', which joins the likes of the 'Blueprint', Raekwon's 'Only Built For Cuban Linx', the latest '20/20' Timberlake experiences and all those Lil' Wayne sets, to go along with all those Marvel movie-world franchises in the sequel album ranks of superiority. A far cry from those trending, failing artists who try and reestablish a buzz by tacking '2' on the end of the title of their defining album name, this generations college favorite returns with more Grand Theft Auto music for the 'V' generation. Proving just like his renegade partner Jay, that for all the Kendrick's and Wiz's out there he is still atop the throne with Kanye's 'Watch The' partner. Returning to his critically defining album, a genre that loves the classics carries on traditions with a hallmark black and white resonating cover (to go along with a cool, alternative Avengers comic book special for the superhero fan). The house may be boarded up, but Marshall's still in it, inviting us to see that the real Slim Shady still stands up and resides here today.
It only seems like yesterday that the hauntingly incredible, note scribe of 'Stan' and the anthem of a generation 'The Way I Am' joined 'The Real Slim Shady' of monumentally huge singles and album tracks like the rightfully scathing 'Who Knew' and the wrongfully harrowing 'Kim' and more 'I'm Back' and 'Drug Ballad' classics that made this rappers shock value bang louder than a Timbaland beat. Then again it doesn't seem like more than three years ago that Shady had an album out (Apart from his other 'Hell' sequel with Bad Meets Evil partner and Slaughterhouse member Royce da 5'9") with the real, redemptive 'Recovery' from the raucous but critically raped 'Relapse'. Today after all the years of 50 Cent's and peroxide Mathers is back to Marshall hip-hop once again with the Batman to his Robin and lifetime production partner Dr. Dre. The 'Detox' and maturation of a man chasing his mentor in middle-age may be on hold, but under the influence once again our clean rapper with the dirtiest of lyrics, awakes from his 99 problems and gets the 100% backing of the man who knows all about white rappers from the Beastie Boys to Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Legend Rick Rubin joins the good Doctors cash investment in the executive producers chair of Eminem's latest round of American recordings. You can hear it in the bold and latest brutal single 'Berzerk' that the most 'out there' rapper has returned from 8 Mile Road. The Detroit Piston let's everyone have it with his substance abuse...even ex-Los Angeles Laker and Clipper Lamar Odom. The anti-baller has returned to rule rap like the unlikely king they could never behead.
The video game single 'Survival' continues the 'Call Of Duty' for a man who is battling his way through the watered and bogged down trenches of modern, mainstream music. Sounding like his fellow bleached rebel P!nk collaboration off his last, solo set Eminem won't back down, even if he is commercially viable enough to feature on a Tom Cruise trailer, Mathers will let anyone have it in his mission impossible to impress beyond the b.s. Taking it back to the roots of his career and the essence of rapping, 'Rap God' re-wakes cult fans and re-writes critics doubt with his supersonic 97 words in 15 seconds that feature a lyrical dexterity of 6.5, Twista jealous, Guinness book words a second. Lines like "Uh, sma lamaa duma lama you assuming I'm a human/What I gotta do to get it through to you I'm superhuman/Innovative and I'm made of rubber/so that anything you say is ricocheting off of me and it'll glue to you/I'm devastating, more than ever demonstrating", further his onslaught on those he leaves naught. If you want another single from this beast than how about 'The Monster' featuring Rihanna? The queen of R&B pop and every years best album and single, collaborates with Em for the fourth time marking arguably the greatest, albeit strangest duet duo around today. After loving the way each other lies for a classic and it's underrated, better sequel, the pair have returned the favor on each others albums. After Ri, Ri's 'Numb' comes this awoken animal from a man that turned Dido collaborations into Elton John ones. You shouldn't be surprised that this mans doing anything, except for playing career Russian roulette with more bullets than stuff that clicks.
The other shots on this album hit their mark, like their deer in headlights targets. The two part 'Bad Guy' opener is the new 'Criminal' and starts at a heart-beat pace only to rip into a chainsaw roaring and cutting finale. The Zombies, awoken 'Time Of The Season' sublime sampling, 'Rhyme Or Reason' adds more to this matter and yin, yang debate as our conflicted rapper literally channels Yoda in these wars of stars and shows us all sides of the two-face coin does he. Answering critics with no question the man who wrote about how he wanted to play the Riddler does anything but contradict himself. Riddle me this, riddle me that who's afraid of the big white rabbit? A rapper who runs and shows he's 'So Much Better' with every legendary track that ass to his 'Legacy'. The cultural phenomenon enlists an internet one to prove he's really an 'Asshole', as Skylar Gray of Diddy Dirty Money 'Coming Home' fame, returns from her previous collaboration with Em and Dr. Dre on 'Detox's' awaiting 'I Need A Doctor' to add another heart-paddle resuscitating chorus with her perfect pitched prescription. The out of this mind raps of 'Brainless' and it's "Fast forward some years later, a teenager this is a fun, sweet/I just got jumped twice in one week, it's complete/It's usually once a month, this is some feat I've accomplished/They've stomped me into the mud, gee for what reason, you stumped me/But how do you get the shit beat out of you/Beat down and be upbeat, when you don't have no-thing/No valid shot at life, chance to make it or succeed, cause you're doomed" lyrics that are a life testament to outcast or down-trodden youth really add to the mindful, socially underrated conscious lyrics of a man that goes from satire to straight forward scolds against all that is wrong with a world that continues to show it's middle finger to the enthusiasm of youth. More lessons are learned on the life explored in 'Stronger Than I Was' and the country riffs of Bad Meets Evils Em's 'So Far...' shows when it comes to old souls and the ways of the world this ones surely familiar of these parts. Even Facebook isn't safe on this cut from an album that's going to chop down any other Twitter trends, hash-tag 'MMLP2'.
Today's top hip-hop star in terms of popularity, Kendrick Lamar joins his label-mate for the Aftermath of Game's and Bishop Lamont's for another Dre favorite in 'Love Game'. The distinct voice of Kendrick makes for some real rhymes and a Californian cool chorus. This good kid certainly has come far from his 'Maad City'. Before night falls 'Headlights' illuminates a singled-out, creative collabo with Nate Ruess of 'fun.' fame, before the 'Evil Twin' ends this rehoused effort like Ken Kaniff skits. More 'Ghosts' are explored on the 'Don't Front' 'Call Of Duty' bonus before this Mathers LP house gets deluxe like an annex. Echoing the Marilyn Manson remix and 'Kids' bonus of the first album, tracks like the beautiful 'Baby', dark 'Desperation' and the wonderfully woes of 'Wicked Ways' help make this separate disc worthy of your extra dollars and sense in a repeatable and quotable album and a half full of legendary, legacy making lyrics. Still, it's the the repeat worthy 'Groundhog Day' and the Sia searing 'Beautiful Pain' that make these bittersweet pills good enough to be swallowed on the first take of this second Marshall album. Now all we need is a trilogy encore or a sequel to the debuting 'Slim Shady LP' (like 'Encore' to 'The Eminem Show' or 'Recovery' to 'Relapse' and its 'Refill') to carry on this Eminem show as Marshall Mathers and his identifying LP have the sequel they deserve. Nostalgia has a welcome home where our man in the white tee once sat outside without risk of foreclosure. If our legend was debuting with this 'Marshall Mathers LP' he'd be paying the mortgage with this album. Slim may be the blonde bomber alter-ego, but Marshall Mathers is the official government name of everyone's favorite rapper that bends race and genre all in one rocked rhyme. In the scope, this is as honestly raw and genuinely real as it gets for your after math, after Mathers listen. After all the years and records this eight wonder is signature like his real name and no gimmicks once again. True to himself but like you've never seen him before, Marshall's home. TIM DAVID HARVEY.