Thirteen years ago, Eminem changed the face of hip-hop and stirred lots of controversy with his 10-million-selling album The Marshall Mathers LP. Now 41 years old, the hip-hop icon revisits the past on his eighth album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2.
On the nostalgic sequel, he encounters Stan’s brother (“Bad Guy”), apologizes to his mother (“Headlights”), and goes bar for bar with Kendrick Lamar (“Love Game”), while enlisting the help of Rick Rubin, Rihanna, Skylar Grey, and fun.’s Nate Ruess.
Was the sharp-tongued MC able to recapture his glory days? Find out what the critics are saying.
Rolling Stone: Nostalgia is everywhere. Em surrounds himself in allusions to classic hip-hop, like the Beastie Boys samples producer Rick Rubin laces together on “Berzerk.” It’s telling that the only guest MC is Kendrick Lamar on “Love Game,” probably because his slippery syllable-juggling owes a lot to Eminem. 4/5
USA Today: On The Marshall Mathers LP 2, he recaptures the original release’s wild, clever, emotional brilliance in a flurry of caustic, brazenly honest, rapid-fire rhymes and aggressive beats. 3.5/4
Los Angeles Times: Where Jay Z’s album felt chilly and glazed-over—the work of a king in search of a specific mandate—Eminem’s scorches, spewing emotion as hot (and as damaging) as lava. If anything, the record shares more with Yeezus by another of Jay Z’s recent touring partners, Kanye West, who like Eminem appears to view aging as a sharpening process. 3/4
Chicago Tribune: The sequel to one of Eminem’s most revered albums, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is the hip-hop version of a classic-rock album. It encapsulates all that was good, bad and just plain tasteless about hip-hop’s middle-age prankster 13 years ago, when he made The Marshall Mathers LP, volume one. 2/4
New York Daily News: The album offers a resounding return to the gory comedy and free embrace of psychosis that first made Em the antihero of our age. It’s his funniest album in years, as well as his fastest, verbally. The speed rap in “Rap God” alone could make every other emcee tie their tongue in shame. 4/5
AP: Everything he’s done best is here, from noirish murder fantasies with devilish twists to big-chorus pop songs with moments of great humor, anger, fear, self-reflection and verbal virtuosity impossible to untangle in just a few listens.
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Rap God,” “Rhyme or Reason,” “The Monster,” “Love Game”