Eminem has said that “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” out Tuesday, is a “revisitation” of its game-changing predecessor. But it is no mere rehash.
If anything, the sequel is more intense than the original, as the Detroit rapper explodes like an M-80, radiating anger, humor, and vulnerability often within the space of a single couplet.
And there are many memorable ones to be heard here, as Eminem doubles down on his manic flow, bursting with analogies, jokes, allusions, and ingenious wordplay with dizzying speed and skill. (“Rap God” is particularly head-spinning.)
Coproducers Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin work their respective brands of magic, crafting a sonic landscape wherein Eminem can hilariously yet masterfully rap like Yoda while reworking a Zombies classic one minute (“Rhyme or Reason”) and immerse himself into a sinister revenge fantasy (the epic continuation of the “Stan” story, “Bad Guy”) the next.
He turns his gaze both inward at his own complicated, and sometimes contradictory, emotions — about fame, family, his legacy — and outward at a world that still isn’t sure how exactly to perceive such a tangled personality, and who still dips into problematic lyrical waters when it comes to women and the use of gay slurs. A few friends, including Rihanna, Nate Ruess of Fun., and Kendrick Lamar pop by to lend a hand.
ESSENTIAL “Bad Guy”