REVIEW: Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP

The Marshall Mathers LP

Artist: Eminem

Album: The Marshall Mathers LP

Label: Interscope

Rating: 8 / 10

Reviewer: DJ MF

I’m not even going to bother with a history for Em. Everyone knows who he is, and everyone has probably heard at least a snippet of his music. In addition, everyone also has an opinion on him. Some say he’s evil, others say he’s cool, other’s say he’s the best of all time, while others say he sucks.

What’s my take on this? Simple. He’s an incredible lyricist who sometimes relies too much on shock to get his point across. That does NOT belittle his skills though. Even when he is doing the lazy thing and just trying to shock you, he’s a better lyricist than 95% of the MC’s in the world today. He can be that good.

This album is the follow up to his hugely successful debut LP on Aftermath records entitled The Slim Shady LP. In its first week of sales it sold close to 2 million copies, and cemented Em’s place as a pop music icon.

I still don’t get it. He is NOT pop. He has NOT sold out, and he has NOT changed his style from his indie days. It’s incredible to me that someone with such an abrasive style and subject matter has managed to get so huge is so short a time. Regardless, let’s rumble.

1) PSA 2000
A sequel to the PSA from his first album, and just as funny, with an announcer warning you of the content ahead. Not much more to it.

2) Kill You
Dre supplies the beat for this, and it’s…ummm…interesting. It’s very herky-jerky, with a stop-start drum and bass pattern, and some synth piano keys timed with the start points. Dre also includes some chimes just to make it sound pretty. Em comes correct on this lyrically, basically telling any and everybody who has crossed him that he’ll kill them, including his mother, who he threatens to rape. Not for the faint of heart. The chorus stinks to high heaven, and something bugs me about this beat. It just doesn’t fit with Em’s style. An ok track in the end.

“Eh-heh, know why I say these things?
Cause lady’s screams keep creepin in Shady’s dreams
And the way things seem, I shouldn’t have to pay these shrinks
This eighty G’s a week to say the same things TWEECE!
TWICE? Whatever, I hate these things
Fuck shots! I hope the weed’ll outweigh these drinks
Motherfuckers want me to come on their radio shows
Just to argue with ’em cause their ratings stink?
FUCK THAT! I’ll choke a radio announcer to bouncer
From fat bitch to off seventy-thousand pounds of her
From principal to the student body and counselor
From in-school to before school to out of school”

3) Stan
EVERYONE in the world has probably heard this song. I’d like to take this moment to declare that I was the first to play it on the radio, probably in the world, as I had a very rough pre-release copy of it. Now that I’m done bragging about my greatness and awesomeness, let’s continue. This song samples the song ‘Thank You’ by Dido, basically in its entirety, with the addition of a slow moving bassline. It’s slow, dark, and provides a great mood for the song. Dido guests on this as well, singing the chorus of ‘Thank You’ for the chorus for this song. Whew, I hope that made sense. The lyrics are simply outstanding on this. The theme here is that a fan is writing letters to Em. The first one has him being a normal fan. The second one is written after he doesn’t get a response, and is a little irritated in tone. The third is just nutso, and ends up with the fan killing himself, his wife, and their unborn child. The final letter is Em finally writing back, explaining why it took so long, and concerned for the health of the fan… until he realizes the news story of the fan who killed himself is the same fan he’s writing too. A gripping tale for real. It’s even creepier when you hear the sound effects used throughout which correspond with the lyrics, like when the fan is driving his car in the rain, and you hear the wipers running in the background. Great stuff, and essential listening.

“Dear Stan, I meant to write you sooner but I just been busy
You said your girlfriend’s pregnant now, how far along is she?
Look, I’m really flattered you would call your daughter that
And here’s an autograph for your brother,
I wrote it on this Starter cap
I’m sorry I didn’t see you at the show, I musta missed you
Don’t think I did that shit intentionally just to diss you
But what’s this shit you said about you like to cut your wrists too?
I say that shit just clownin’ dog,
C’mon – how fucked up is you?
You got some issues Stan, I think you need some counselling
To help your ass from bouncing off the walls when you get down some
And what’s this shit about us meant to be together?
That type of shit’ll make me not want us to meet each other
I really think you and your girlfriend need each other
or maybe you just need to treat her better”

4) Paul
A short nothing skit with Em’s manager Paul leaving a message telling Em he needs to talk to him about the content of the album.

5) Who Knew
More Dre production with the same sort of stop-start thing going on in ‘Kill You’. A slow bassline again, some flutes for the chorus, and some major note keys which add some lightness to the track. Not bad. The lyrics, while shocking again, also show an incredible awareness on Em’s part, as he calls out society in general for not taking responsibility for their own children, instead blaming him. Great stuff, and if you really read it, he’s right.

“So who’s bringin the guns in this country?
I couldn’t sneak a plastic pellet gun through customs over in London
And last week, I seen a Schwarznegger movie
Where he’s shootin all sorts of these motherfuckers with a uzi
I see three little kids, up in the front row,
Screamin “Go,” with their 17-year-old Uncle
I’m like, ‘Guidance – ain’t they got the same moms and dads
Who got mad when I asked if they liked violence?’
And told me that my tape taught ’em to swear
What about the make-up you allow your 12-year-old daughter to wear?”

6) Steve Berman
Another skit, this time with label head Steve Berman telling Em that his album stinks, and that no one is willing to buy it. Funny, but again, I skip it all the time now after hearing it once.

7) The Way I Am
The second single off the LP, and probably the most different sounding as well. Em produced this one himself, and it sounds like he might have a very bright future in production as well as MCing. The beat is suitably dark, with a looped rolling piano sample, and a very dark rumbling bassline. You also get some church bells ringing out in the background, and when the chorus kicks in, the beat changes up to a sinister organ which accentuates the lyrics. Great stuff, and very complex. The lyrics on this one are again very intelligent, as Em examines how he’s persecuted in the media and by the public for what he does and what he says, while everyone does nothing for themselves. Great lyrics, and on top of it all, he switches up his style here, practically yelling out his lines in an abrasive flow.

“Sometimes I just feel like my father, I hate to be bothered
With all of this nonsense it’s constant
And, “Oh, it’s his lyrical content”
“The song ‘Guilty Conscience’ has gotten such rotten responses”
And all of this controversy circles me
And it seems like the media immediately
Points a finger at me
So I point one back at ’em, but not the index or pinkie
Or the ring or the thumb, it’s the one you put up
When you don’t give a fuck, when you won’t just put up
With the bullshit they pull, cause they full of shit too
When a dude’s gettin bullied and shoots up his school
And they blame it on Marilyn, and the heroin
Where were the parents at? And look where it’s at”

8) The Real Slim Shady
Your grandmother has probably heard this. Your great-grandmother has probably heard this. I’ve grown sick of it to be honest, due to overplay, but it’s still a good song. Dre drops a very poppy, very bouncy beat for Em here, which at first disguises a lot of the content, which is basically Em attacking everything. A rubbery bassline, with chime accents, and basic drums. The chorus is as catchy as anything that’s ever been on the radio, and the lyrics are massively funny, with Em taking shots at the teen queens, Will Smith, and even Dr. Dre. Great stuff, but like I said, overplay has killed it for me. Maybe in 3 years I’ll be able to enjoy it again.

“Will Smith don’t gotta cuss in his raps to sell his records
Well I do, so fuck him and fuck you too!
You think I give a damn about a Grammy?
Half of you critics can’t even stomach me, let alone stand me
“But Slim, what if you win, wouldn’t it be weird?”
Why? So you guys could just lie to get me here?
So you can, sit me here next to Britney Spears?
Sh*t, Christina Aguilera better switch me chairs
So I can sit next to Carson Daly and Fred Durst
And hear ’em argue over who she gave head to first
You little bitch, put me on blast on MTV
“Yeah, he’s cute, but I think he’s married to Kim, hee-hee!”
I should download her audio on MP3
and show the whole world how you gave Eminem VD”

9) Remember Me? feat. RBX and Sticky Fingaz
Now THIS I like. What a thick beat. It’s dark, it’s menacing, and I wish Em would rhyme over stuff like this more often. Like I said, a heavy bass beat, slow paced drums, and some swirling sound effects…and that’s it. RBX starts things off, and his style has changed a little, but his voice still rocks hard. Sticky (of Onyx fame) comes in next, and drops what I expected- a funny verse that shocks without trying hard. Sticky is kinda like the prototype Eminem from 10 years ago. Em then drops his verse, and damn, he destroys it verbally with lines like the following-

“When I go out, I’ma go out shootin
I don’t mean when I die, I mean when I go out to the club, stupid
I’m tryin to clear up my fuckin’ image,
So I promised the fuckin’ critics
I wouldn’t say “fuckin’ for six minutes
(*click* Six minutes, Slim Shady, you’re on)
My baby’s mom, bitch made me an angry blonde
So I made me a song, killed her and put Hailie on
I may be wrong, I keep thinkin these crazy thoughts
In my cranium, but I’m stuck with a crazy mom”

And by the way, if you don’t see the funniness in the “six minutes” line, then I feel for ya.

10) I’m Back
And we reenter pop territory with this beat. It has a deep bass drop, and a very catchy synth melody that makes up the bulk of the track. Again, simple but effective, as it lets Em do his thing while still making it a viable radio song (minus all the vulgarity). The chorus is pretty good, with a scratch sample, and some kids chanting “Slim Shady”. The chorus alone made me think this was bound to be a single- I guess I was wrong. In terms of lyrics, this is basically an Em braggadacio track, something he doesn’t normally do if you look at the body of his work. Some great lines, and a great call at Jennifer Lopez in his final verse.

“It’s why I tend to block out when I hear things
Cause all these fans screamin is makin my ears ring
So I just, throw up a middle finger and let it linger
Longer than the rumor that I was stickin it to Christina
Cause if I ever stick it to any singer in showbiz
It’d be Jennifer Lopez, and Puffy you know this!
I’m sorry Puff, but I don’t give a fuck if this chick was my own mother
I’d still fuck her with no rubber, and cum inside her
And have a son and a new brother at the same time
And just say that it ain’t mine, what’s my name?”

11) Marshall Mathers
A change of pace, as things slow down quite a bit, and Em serenades us with his beautiful singing voice (ya right). The point of the song is basically Em defending himself against all the critics out there. The beat is simple, and has an acoustic guitar making up the bulk of the melody. A little too laid back for my taste, even when it kicks up a notch halfway through the first verse. The treat as usual are the lyrics, and Em REALLY goes all out on this, which is saying something considering how nutso he goes normally. The targets? Insane Clown Posse, and XXL Magazine come to mind first. Great stuff. And there’s supposedly a DMX diss here too, although I think the evidence is pretty bad(I’ll let you try to figure it out yourself).

“Now everybody’s so happy and proud
I’m finally allowed to step foot in my girlfriend’s house
Hey-hey! And then to top it off, I walked to the newsstand
To buy this cheap-ass little magazine with a food stamp
Skipped to the last page, flipped right fast
And what do I see? A picture of my big white ass
Okay, let me give you motherfuckers some help:
Uhh, here – DOUBLE XL, DOUBLE XL
Now your magazine shouldn’t have so much trouble to sell
Ahh fuck it, I’ll even buy a couple myself”

A quick note is that XXL then tried to capitalize on this “beef”, thus losing my respect forever with an extremely slanted article after the diss, when before they had loved Eminem.

12) Ken Kaniff
Another skit, and this one is gross. Insane Clow Posse is the target again, as the fictional character Ken Kaniff is receiving, umm, something from both of them. Let’s just say it’s not candy. I skip this ALL the time, although I was howling with laughter the first time I heard it.

13) Drug Ballad
This sucks. A blatant crossover beat that I don’t feel at all. It’s bass driven, and aimed directly at the clubs, but unlike other Em club songs, sounds exactly like everything on the radio today. The only nice thing about the beat is the piano keys they loop. That’s it. The lyrics also let down amazingly, as Em just drops a standard drug ode here. Bleh.

14) Amityville feat. Bizarre
Now THIS is better. Another scratchy dark beat, which sounds like it was left off the new D-12 album. Some crazy flutes in the deep background, and everything just sounds really scratchy. Kinda like an old 45 that’s been played too much. This is basically Em introducing his crewmate Bizarre properly on record. Bizarre sucks. Em comes correct though, and drops some horrorcore in the tradition of the Gravediggaz.

“That’s why we don’t call it Detroit, we call it Amityville
You can get capped after just havin a cavity filled
Ahahahaha, that’s why we’re crowned the murder capital still
This ain’t Detroit, this is motherf**kin Hamburger Hill!
We don’t do drivebys, we park in front of houses and shoot
And when the police come we f**kin shoot it out with them too!”

15) Bitch Please II feat. Dre, Snoop, Xzibit, Nate Dogg
An allstar lineup for the sequel to the hit Snoop song which featured X to the Z. The beat is very similar to the original, but it’s tweaked a bit, especially in the area of the drums and bass. The rhythm and melody sections sound almost exactly the same though, with some synth chimes of some sort. The bassline is more upbeat than the original and is very catchy in that Dre kind of way. Nate does a bang up job with the chorus, but the niceness here comes from X and Em as they both drop blazing verses. X’s is straight up thug ish, and Em does an impression of Snoop before going into a scathing verse. The impression made me laugh for hours by the way, and you’ll only REALLY get it if you hear the original.

“Hahaha! Gimme the mic, let me recite, ’til Timothy White
Pickets outside the Interscope offices every night
What if he’s right? I’m just a criminal, makin a living
Off of the world’s misery – what in the world gives me the right
To say what I like, and walk around flippin the bird
Livin the urban life, like a white kid from the ‘burbs
Dreamin at night of screamin at mom, schemin to leave
Run away from home and grow to be as evil as me
I just want you all to notice me and people to see
that somewhere deep down, there’s a decent human being in me”

16) Kim / The Kids
You want disturbing? This is your track. A prequel to the track ‘Bonnie and Clyde 98’, this track is the one most everyone points to when they say Em is sick and evil. They may have a point. The beat is strangely beautiful, with a gorgeous piano loop, and some hard dirty drums. The problem is the lyrics. There’s no real rhyming here. It’s just Em screaming at the top of his lungs at his wife about how he’s going to kill her for cheating on him. I won’t deny the lyrics are a bit scary, as is the ending, where he DOES kill her on the track, accompanied by the gurgling of her cut throat. Let it be noted that he actually HASN’T killed her though, and he himself has said that this was just a fantasy he had when they were going through rough times. I can’t overstate how messed up and disturbing this is. I normally don’t listen to this. A small sample –

“Oh my God I’m crackin’ up
Get a grip Marshall
Hey remember the time we went to Brian’s party?
And you were like so drunk that you threw up all over Archie
That was funny wasn’t it?
(Yes!)
That was funny wasn’t it?
(Yes!)
See it all makes sense, doesn’t it?
You and your husband have a fight
One of you tries to grab a knife
And during the struggle he accidentally gets his Adam’s apple sliced
(No!)”

Woah. The clean versions of the LP had this track replaced with a song called ‘The Kids’, which I actually preffered, as it was a much better song. ‘The Kids’ was a play on “South Park”, with Em playing a schoolteacher, warning his students about the dangers of drugs. Very very funny stuff, althoug the clean version of the LP is apparently very hard to find up here in Canada. A small snippet from ‘The Kids’ –

“And last but not least, one of the most humungous
Problems among young people today, is fungus
It grows from cow manure, they pick it out, wipe it off,
Bag it up, and you put it right in your mouth and chew it
Yum yum! Then you start to see some dumb stuff
And everything slows down when you eat some of ’em.
And sometimes you see things that aren’t there
Like fat woman in G-strings with orange hair
(Mr. Shady what’s a G-string?) It’s yarn Claire
Women stick ’em up their behinds, go out and wear ’em”

17) Under The Influence- feat. D-12
A group outing here, as Em only has one verse on the cut. This reminds me a lot of the new D-12 album, both in tone, and the type of beat. Some violins, and a basic drum and bass setup. Em has an OK verse, Bizarre sucks, and the rest are mediocre at best here. Too boring, and more importantly too long to hold my attention. I won’t necessarily skip this, but I don’t actively search it out either.

18) Criminal
This starts off with Em talking, and replicating a skit he had on his last album where he told people that he wasn’t as bad as they made him out to be. It then jumps into the song, where Em tells you he’s a criminal instead. Funny intro. The beat here is very fast paced, and fits perfectly with Em’s flow, with assorted bells and some nice synths. The lyrics are the highlight again, with Em again taking time to diss anybody and everybody, including homosexuals, Versace, and president Clinton. He even references his own vow to never use the word “ni**er” in his raps, in a hilarious line. Great track.

“I’m a criminal – an animal caged who turned crazed
But how the fuck you supposed to grow up when you weren’t raised?
So as I got older and I got a lot taller
My dick shrunk smaller, but my balls got larger
I drink malt liquor to fuck you up quicker
Than you’d wanna fyck me up for sayin the word…
My morals went thump when the president got oral
Sex in his Oval Office on top of his desk
Off of his own employee
Now don’t ignore me, you won’t avoid me
You can’t miss me, I’m white, blonde-haired
And my nose is pointy
I’m the bad guy who makes fun of people that die
In plane crashes and laughs
As long as it ain’t happened to him”

So what more is there to say? The man is amazing lyrically, but has a propensity for picking wack beats every once in a while. That’s not a crime though. Did he deserve a Grammy nomination for this? I say yes. This was far better than most any hip hop release last year when viewed as a sum of it’s parts, and it was easily better than anything it was up against in the Grammies. Will he ever escape criticism? Probably not. Even with this album, which answered critics, he got slammed by people who didn’t LISTEN.

So that’s my final say. If you’re a hip hop fan, you’ll love this. If you’re not, or you’re scared by Em, I urge you to actually listen to this. Sure there’s questionable content, but that’s why you’re an adult- you can make decisions for yourself.

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