Has it been 13 years since The Marshall Mathers LP found its way into my collection? A 17-year-old, skinny high school student whose music collection was limited to the disenfranchised post grunge albums and industrial rabble-rousers proclaiming god was dead. I heard about Eminem—hi, my name is cheekacheeka Slim Shady—but rap was for assholes with their pants sagging so low you wondered why the fuck they didn’t just walk around in their boxers. But his third studio album hit me hard. “The Way I Am,” “Marshall Mathers,” and “Stan” hit me hard that not all rap albums are full of shit. That Eminem had a gift and he was going to change the rap world with it.
Now, I’m a 30-year-old man and his latest album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 dropped so hard the ground shook beneath our feet. The perfect homage to his younger self, the album reflects his growth from the angry, bleach blonde homicidal manic in a jump suit and Jason hockey mask. He’s still angry. But his lyrics are filled with so many emotions it’s easy to overlook it.
In “Headlights,” which features the vocals of Nate Ruess (Fun.), he revisits the anger and grudge he held against his mother. “I went in headfirst/Never thinking about who what I said hurt, in what verse/My mom probably got it the worst/The brunt of it, but as stubborn as we are/Did I take it too far?/Cleaning out my closet and all them other songs/But regardless I don’t hate you cause ma/You’re still beautiful to me, cause you’re my mom,” opens Eminem’s verse of the nearly tear-jerking magnum opus of a son putting all his hate behind him. He goes on to say, “Now I know it’s not your fault, and I’m not making jokes/That song I no longer play at shows and I cringe every time it’s on the radio…/But I love you Debbie Mathers, oh what a tangle web we have cause…And I’m mad I didn’t get the chance to thank you for being my Mom and my Dad/So Mom, please accept this as a tribute I wrote this on the jet/I guess I had to get this off my chest, I hope I get the chance to lay it before I’m dead.”
While in “Stronger Than I Was,” Eminem revisits his crumbled relationship with Kim Mathers. Rather going off at her, placing her body in the proverbial trunk, he finally sits back and sees the relationship from her point of view: “And you’d tease, you’re just fucking with me/and you must hate me/why do you date me if you say I make you sick? […]We were Bonnie and Clyde/No, on the inside you were Jekyll and Hyde I/Felt like my whole relationship with you was a lie/It was you and I, why did I think it was ride or die? […] And I thank you cause you made me a better person than I was/But I hate you cause you drained me/I gave you all, you gave me none/But if you blame me, you’re crazy.”
By far, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is the most important album of the year, surpassing my favorite band’s come back. It proves that Eminem has matured, while remaining the rap artist we fell in love when he first came out in the scene. The album is packed with references from older material (such as the feud he had with the Insane Clown Posse), guest musicians (like Rihanna—I’ll happy skip these tracks in the future), Skylar Grey, and Kendrick Lamar). Still filled with misogyny and homophobic slurs, it’s no wonder that Marshall Mathers LP 2 has stirred so much controversy and resentment from this pretentious politically correct world. In other words, the musician can grow older without having grown up.