Guess who's back... back again? Shady's back.... Hide your friends.
On November 5, the 13-time Grammy-winning, Caucasian Detroit-based MC finally released his eighth LP, a long-awaited sequel to the 2000 release The Marshall Mathers LP, simply adding a "2" to that title for a new album. This time, however, his mentor, the music icon known as Dr. Dre, isn't stepping behind the boards this time around. Instead, the N.W.A. co-founder decided to fall back into an executive-producer role, along with another producing legend who actually does produce here, Rick Rubin.
We haven't seen Slim Shady since 2011, the year that he released a collaboration album with fellow Detroit native Royce da 5'9, Hell: the Sequel. Now, at 41, he seems to have grown older instead of up with this release. But is it a bad thing? Considering the musical strength of this newest singles, "Berzerk" and "Rap God," and despite the absence of beats by Dre (not the headphones), the resounding answer should be, "No."
The LP starts of with a reminder of who Eminem is, a nightmare called "Bad Guy," from producers S1 and M-Phases on part one, and StreetRunner on part two.
Then, after an interlude featuring Shady running from policemen and dogs before apparently blowing his own brains out, "Rhyme or Reason" is a take on the Zombies' song of the same name, produced by Rubin and Eminem.
The MC hooks up once again with co-producer Luis Resto on "So Much Better", an angry breakup song.
DJ Khalil produces "Survival" featuring Liz Rodriguez singing the chorus. This one is a rock-flavored track that could pose as a single.
"Legacy," with a beat from Emile, features Polina and is a piano-backed song in which Em speaks about what he leaves behind once he passes on.
"A**hole" features his frequent collaborator Skylar Grey and is produced by Alex da Kid. This is a showcase of lyrical prowess which tells us that Em is comfortable in his role as someone seen as a villain.
What follows is the first single, the Rubin-powered "Berzerk", which features multiple samples, some from the Beastie Boys, one of the groups that Rubin produced for.
The other current single, "Rap God," is a DVLP beat mixed with Em's lickety-split lyricism.
After this comes "Brainless," Em's self-produced track that tells us that Eminem has been told he's..... well... brainless.
Then, Slim produces and sings on "Stronger Than I Was," a much-slower song about his strength of will, despite it all.
"The Monster" has none other than Rihanna on the chorus and Frequency on the beat. Everyone knew that this would be the LP's third single, considering the success of "Love the Way You Lie," their collaboration from the last LP, Recovery. This packs the same punch of their previous union.
"So Far...." features a sample from Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good" and another from Schoolly D's one giant hit, "PSK (What Does It Mean)", thanks to Rubin, who also smashes the boards on the following track, "Love Game" featuring Kendrick Lamar, a Dre protégé.
"Headlights," from Emile and Jaff Bhasker, features Nate Ruess and is a kind of ballad to start off, about.... what else? Eminem's mother, Debbie Mathers-Briggs. Only this time, he says that his mom is beautiful, and this song is apologetic and forgiving. It is refreshing to see Eminem have a change of heart. One's mother is their mother.
The final track on the official release (sans the five bonus tracks), "Evil Twin," comes with a beat from Sid Roams and speaks of Slim Shady and Eminem, the two different personalities of Marshall Mathers, which is pretty much the point of the whole album. Also, this speaks of the past battles in which he had been embroiled throughout history.
If you cop the Deluxe Edition, you will get five more tracks - "Baby," "Desperation," "Groundhog Day," "Beautiful Pain," and "Wicked Ways" - all of which are top quality.
This album is very lyrically strong - in fact, this could be Eminem at his absolute best.