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The Marshall Mathers LP


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Album Review

It's hard to know what to make of Eminem, even if you realize that half of what he says is sincere and half is a put-on. The trick isn't just figuring out which is what — it's realizing that there's truth in the joke, and vice versa. That's why many listeners and critics were taken aback by his dark, carnival-esque debut The Slim Shady LP, even dismissing his considerable skills as a rapper and social satirist because the vulgarities and gross-out humor were too detailed, even shocking, for some to believe that it was anything but real. As it turns out, that very blurring of boundaries is what gave the record depth, and to Eminem's credit, he decides to exploit that confusion on his masterful second record, The Marshall Mathers LP. Some may think that it's significant that he named the album after his birth name, that the recording will be more personal or introspective than a debut named after his stage persona's alter ego (how post-modern is that, anyway?), but that's just not the case. Eminem is all about blurring the distinction between reality and fiction, humor and horror, satire and documentary, so it makes perfect sense that The Marshall Mathers LP is no more or no less "real" than The Slim Shady LP. It is, however, a fairly brilliant expansion of his debut, turning his spare, menacing hip-hop into a hyper-surreal, wittily disturbing thrill ride. The Marshal Mathers LP is both funnier and darker than his debut, with jabs at pop star peers ("The Real Slim Shady") sitting virtually side-by-side with violent fantasies of retribution ("Kim," written about the mother of his child — who he reconciled with and married after recording this track). Eminem's writing is so sharp and clever that the jokes cut as deeply as the explorations of his ruptured psyches. Thankfully, the production is nearly as evocative as the raps, matching the tone of the lyrics with liquid basslines, stuttering rhythms, slight sound effects, and spacious soundscapes. There may not be overpowering hooks on every track — just enough to ensure radio play — but the album works as a whole, always drawing a listener into the paranoid, violent, and very funny world of Eminem. But, once you're in, Eminem makes no compromises. He doesn't care if you understand exactly where he's at, and he doesn't offer any apologies if you can't sort the fact from the fiction — that's your job as a listener. As an artist, he's supposed to create his own world, and with this terrific second effort, he certainly has. It may be a world that is as intriguing as it is infuriating, but it is without question his own, which is far more than most of his peers — in both hip-hop and rock — are able to accomplish at the dawn of a new millennium. [The Marshall Mathers LP was also released in a "clean" version, containing no profanities or vulgarities. It might miss the point somewhat, since profanity is part of Eminem's genius — or, it could be as simple as his claim "Will Smith doesn't have to cuss to sell records/Well, I **** him" — but this will certainly be of use of to worried parents.]

Customer Reviews

the marshall mathers lp

i only have stan, the real slim shady and criminal but those are kinda good song! im a pretty big fan of eminem and this album prooves why hes a famous guy . nice job shady!

the marshall mathers LP

sorry, i only have "the real slim shady" but it's a good song!

Thanks iTunes but....

I love the clean version of this album but please add the "Clean" tag to all the songs on the clean version so people can better know that this is the clean version of the album!!!


Born: October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph, MO

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

To call Eminem hip-hop's Elvis is correct to a degree, but it's largely inaccurate. Certainly, Eminem was the first white rapper since the Beastie Boys to garner both sales and critical respect, but his impact exceeded this confining distinction. On sheer verbal skills, Eminem was one of the greatest MCs of his generation — rapid, fluid, dexterous, and unpredictable, as capable of pulling off long-form narrative as he was delivering a withering aside — and thanks to his mentor Dr. Dre,...
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