January 22, 2008

Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP (May 23, 2000)


Marshall Bruce Mathers III probably felt that he would be the last person to sell millions of copies of his debut rap album, even with the Midas touch of Andre Young and the financial backing of Interscope Records in his corner. Alas, he did just that: The Slim Shady LP sold gazillions of copies and made him a household name, all due to to the fact that he was an above-average lyricist with obvious skill.

Oh, and he was white. With bleached-blond hair.

Regardless of race, the time had come for Marshall to prove that he wasn't just a one-hit wonder, so The Marshall Mathers LP was born. Once again featuring the support of the famed physician Dr. Young, Eminem opted to give his new fans more of the same ridiculous bullshit spit in a catchy rhyme form, all while mixing in more personal stories from his past and his newly-rich present. As most rappers tend to do, he also intended to use his sophomore effort as a springboard for his weed carriers D-12, which is a little bit ironic, since that group formed without Eminem back in the day and included Marshall as their weed carrier. Oh, how the tables have turned.

The Marshall Mathers LP sold over 1.7 million copies in its first week (you read that right), and went on to win numerous awards including Best Rap Album at the Grammys, which obviously means that this album was better than every single other rap album released in the year 2000. As such, Eminem just became mush richer and much more successful, and he would eventually run out of things to rhyme about, choosing instead to align himself with his weed carriers and one Curtis Jackson, and leaving old friend Royce Da 5'9" in the dust, which is too bad, since the two of them would have worked well off of each other during the course of their respective careers.

Oh well, there's still hope.

1. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT 2000
Well, at least this intro is funnier than the one that started up The Slim Shady LP.

2. KILL YOU
Misogynistic and homophobic for shock value's sake only. When you listen to this song eight years into its lifespan, you realize that Dr. Dre's beat sucks.

3. STAN (FEAT DIDO)
It doesn't help that I, like most of America, had never heard Dido's "Thank You" in its entirety until after I heard "Stan". I remember repeating this song at least twenty times the day of The Marshall Mathers LP's release. You may believe Eminem to be overrated today, which would be an astute observation since he sucks balls now, but this song is fucking brilliant, and it still works today. Probably the best song Eminem will ever record (although I still like "Role Model" better).

4. PAUL (SKIT)
Paul Rosenberg has his own blog. That's all I got.

5. WHO KNEW
This Dre beat sounds more like what the first song should have sounded like. It actually would have made more sense to have the song where Eminem talks about his shocking success as the first song on the sophomore LP, but that's just me; maybe I make too much sense sometimes.

6. STEVE BERMAN (SKIT)
Serves as a pretty good lead-in for the next song, but that's the only positive trait it has.

7. THE WAY I AM
The best part of this song may be at the very beginning, where Marshall tries to dedicate the song to a group of like-minded fans, but gives up midway through: "This song is for anyone...fuck it, shut up and listen". But it's still a good song today (I can do without the remix with Marilyn Manson on the hook, not because I hate Manson, but because the remix is bad), and the video was decent enough, from what I can recall.

8. THE REAL SLIM SHADY
The first official single. I just listened to this song, so that way my two readers never have to listen to it ever again. Trust me, it sounds that bad now. I can't imagine how this song was ever popular. (My guess would have to be that the video probably helped, although all I remember of that clip is the color yellow, and I'm not bothered enough to start hunting for it on Youtube.)

9. REMEMBER ME? (FEAT RBX & STICKY FINGAZ)
A discarded track from Dr. Dre's original 2001 sessions. Seriously. If you track down some of the original print advertising for 2001, you'll find that Sticky Fingaz and RBX were both scheduled to appear on the original version of that seminal disc. At least that story makes sense: in 2000, didn't you kind of wonder why fucking RBX and Sticky Fingaz would actually appear on an Eminem album? Anyway, this song sounds incredibly awkward, and should only be listened to as a curiosity piece.

10. I'M BACK
You know, instead of using these fourth-rate Dr. Dre prescriptions, Marshall should really branch out and look to other producers to see if he can perfect his sound. Hopefully he actually does this on future album releases, and doesn't just decide to produce all of the songs himself, as he seems to be prone to do.

11. MARSHALL MATHERS
I've never been a fan of the songs where Eminem feels the need to sing the chorus, with very few exceptions. The drums aren't strong enough to carry this song (for this, he couldn't get a Dre beat?), but the lyrics, albeit censored, are pretty great.

12. KEN KANIFF (SKIT)
These skits got old real quick, especially since the original rapper that performed as Ken Kaniff, Aristotle, had beef with Eminem and Em took it upon himself to resurrect the dumb-ass character himself.

13. DRUG BALLAD (FEAT DINA RAE)
Completely out of place, but I understand that Marshall was just following the same formula as the debut album, so on that note I forgive him, since it's not like I ever have to listen to this monstrosity ever again or anything.

14. AMITYVILLE (FEAT BIZARRE)
I have to know: does anyone actually sit around thinking "Eminem is okay, but you know that guy Bizarre? That guy fucking rips shit!" If you're that guy, feel free to show yourself in the comments. You just know there has to be someone in the world like that.

15. BITCH PLEASE II (FEAT DR. DRE, SNOOP DOGG, NATE DOGG, & XZIBIT)
Almost practically the same comment as "Remember Me?"; I can't think of any reasonable excuse why Snoop, Nate, and Xzibit would appear on an Eminem album, although this song may be more of an example of Andre asking Snoop for a co-sign, and Snoop needing to appear on what was sure to be a multi-platinum selling disc to keep his career viable. Anyway, the original song, known as "B Please" on the back of Snoop's solo album No Limit Top Dogg (and featuring Xzibit and production by Dre), is much much better; this song would be okay, but Eminem's style doesn't truly fit the theme of the song, as it's obvious that Em is a better rapper than everyone else on the track thanks to his wordy delivery. Side note: I just read that Nate Dogg had a stroke and is now partially paralyzed. My best wishes go out to Nate and his family, especially since I always liked Nate, ever since the Death Row days.

16. KIM
Shortly after the release of The Slim Shady LP, a song called "Bitch So Wrong" popped up on random blogs, describing in clear and incredibly disturbing detail the events that led up to the first album's "'97 Bonnie & Clyde" (also known as "Just The Two Of Us", for The Slim Shady EP fans). Truth be told, the unmastered leak sounds a lot scarier than this song, if only because the references to "a four year old boy laying dead with a slit throat" sound much creepier when they're, I don't know, uncensored. (Thanks, Interscope!)

17. UNDER THE INFLUENCE (FEAT D-12)
The hook to this song is godawful, but that's not the point. The intent of "Under The Influence" is to introduce Eminem's weed carriers to the masses, and on that note he succeeds, if only because all six members of D-12 appear on this song. Are the other rappers any good, though? Well, some of them don't completely suck, but this song renders everyone except Eminem completely indistinguishable from the other; I guess we'll just have to wait until the D-12 write-ups start for further commentary.

18. CRIMINAL
An excuse to spit the most vile, homophobic shit (in the first verse) that he can think of, under the pretense that he's just playing a character named Slim Shady. Drew the wrath of GLAAD, for damn good reason, although if you make it past the first verse and the goofy robbery skit included mid-song, you'll understand the point that Marshall was trying to make, although he failed miserably at it.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The Marshall Mathers LP comes off as Slim Shady 2.0. However, the beats are, for the most part, much better, and ever since the success of the debut album, Marshall obviously has more life experience to draw upon here, so he seizes the opportunity to exorcise his personal demons on wax, to mostly good effect. A lot of critics hold The Marshall Mathers LP in high regard; most people consider this to be his finest achievement. I would have to go along with that statement, even though there are some seriously questionable inclusions on this album.

BUY OR BURN? Let's be honest here: this album sold a gazillion copies, so chances are you probably already own this album anyway. For the three people in the world that don't have this somewhere in their collection, you may as well pick it up, since you'll find it for three bucks used, and Eminem proves himself to be a lyrical aficionado, even on the songs with horrible beats.

BEST TRACKS: "Stan"; "The Way I Am"; "Marshall Mathers"; "Kim"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Eminem - The Slim Shady LP

7 comments:

  1. I think you're a little tough on the songs, and then somehow come to a thumbs up on the album as a whole.

    Amityville, Under The Influence, and I'm Back are way better then you give credit for.

    I think Eminem is one of those rappers who in retrospect is tough to listen to, because you forget how different his music sounded to everything else that was out when it was released.

    Plus, he flew off the deep end so hard, it's like we don't want to admit that at one point this was slamming.

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  2. Bizarre fucking rips shit

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  3. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessJanuary 26, 2008

    Cormega since my first taste, Canibus in 1998-99, and Eminem for his first 3 albums are the only rappers that made me feel like a new verse was an event and that I absolutely had to hear their every word on wax. Marshall was amazing when he still felt like he had something to prove on the mic.

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  4. Hmm. this was an intriguing review. I will agree with you on most of the things you said on this album. I always felt that this album was the gift and curse for Em. I mean he was able to provide for his family and friends (sans Royce),but it seems he lost something after the success of this album.

    Anyways, cool review and until next time.

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  5. Wrong. Remember Me? is my track. RBX is scary on this and the beat is just icing for me.

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  6. If you think Dr Dre's electric chair warmer upstaged Marshal on Remember Me? you need your fucking ears sorted, and this is coming from someone who hates Eminem with a passion.

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  7. Em's always been trash. And I will post this exact same comment in the Slim Shady review because it's true, lol. Eminem has 3 great songs. Exactly 3. And to me, they're blindly obvious:

    Stan, Role Model and Guilty Conscience.

    I have a soft spot for "Without Me" (It's over! nobody listens to techno, now let's go!!!"). and I think his verse on "Dead Wrong" is blisteringly good.

    When I hear newbie hip hop fans proclaim Em as top 5, and the actual great rappers never say shit to the contrary, I cringe. Em's beat selection is horrendous. Regardless of whether you love Em's voice, it's hard to ignore the fact that dude hasn't worked with the greatest hip hop producers (with the exception of Dre). Which is fucking weird to me. And his 'angry' flow is grating. Twas never hot in le streets.

    over and out.

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