Review: Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP2 (Interscope)
Has the king of the throwdown got his mojo back? Eamon Carr gives his verdict on the new album.
Once upon a time the big question posed in pop music was, "Who do you love?" Thirteen years ago Eminem poured petroleum over the old skool and torched the lot.
As militant rappers Public Enemy proclaimed, Welcome to the Terrordome, suckers.
Eminem made hate as fashionable as a new Kangol hat. The president of America, George W Bush, branded him "the worst thing to happen to American youth since polio."
But, hot damn, this guy from the post-apocalyptic urban wasteland that is America's modern day Motor City, Detroit, demonstrated that he had the fingers of one hand on the faltering pulse of a sick society tired of being kicked around. A society whose anger, angst and screwed-up ambitions he could articulate.
The other hand was fixed firmly on the throat of those faceless administrators, the mediocre beggars on horseback who, to paraphrase WB Yeats, lash the beggars on foot.
He had his ups. But the downs messed him up for sure. That's narcotics for ya. Maybe I'm alone, but I struggled to find much evidence of the dude's genius in the multi-million-selling Recovery and Relapse and a bunch of his mid-career albums.
Having survived the warped phantasmagoria of superstar celebrity, Marshall Bruce Mathers 111 re-connects with the psychic wounds of his childhood and rediscovers the truth of a mantra first pedaled by Johnny Rotten (nee Lydon), "anger is an energy."
"Angels fights with devils and here's what they want from me," he rages on the turbo-charged, and awe-inspiring, Rap God.
It's not the album's opening salvo. That's the seven minute Bad Guy, a proper sequel. "I'm coming for closure... you thought it was over," his demon advises. The silver-tongued devil does it again, unfolding a story of confusion, loathing and inner turmoil that underlines Eminem's great storytelling gift.
The cartoon skits are still intact. But what about the beats? Well, Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin both get Executive Producer credits. So, yes, the bomb gets dropped. Rasping industrial on Asshole. Def Jam hip-hop-stylee, incorporating Billy Squiers' stonkin' The Stroke, on Berzerk.
Rhyme Or Reason kicks off all over 60s English band The Zombie's melodic Time of the Season as Eminem attempts to come to terms with the influence of his father. "Let's have us a father and son talk...it's all your fault..misery loves company.." There are well-paid psychiatrists who've yet to hear stories as pained and convoluted at this.
With sixteen tracks here, there's plenty to chew on. But I'd recommend you hustle the bonus tracks package which adds another five monster cuts.
The good news? "It ain't over 'til I say it's over..." he threatens on Survival. The king of the throwdown has his mojo back. "I'm not a rapper. I'm an adapter. I'm a fighter."
It's good to have Eminem back in the ring. Seconds out.