Album: The Marshall Mathers LP

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Album:

The Marshall Mathers LP

Artist: Eminem
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Label: Interscope Records

Will the real Slim Shady please stand up? On Eminem’s sophomore album, he can’t decide who he wants to be: the deranged pseudo-psycho of the Slim Shady LP, or a nice guy who just likes to rhyme about slicing and dicing his girlfriend (“Kim”). Of course, according to Eminem, he’s just kidding. He refuses to take responsibility for the misogynistic, homophobic bile he spews, whining that he’s the victim of people who don’t get his unique sense of humor. It’s good old America’s fault if the kids aren’t alright (Eminem blames bad parenting), and he’s just…

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Will the real Slim Shady please stand up? On Eminem’s sophomore album, he can’t decide who he wants to be: the deranged pseudo-psycho of the Slim Shady LP, or a nice guy who just likes to rhyme about slicing and dicing his girlfriend (“Kim”). Of course, according to Eminem, he’s just kidding. He refuses to take responsibility for the misogynistic, homophobic bile he spews, whining that he’s the victim of people who don’t get his unique sense of humor. It’s good old America’s fault if the kids aren’t alright (Eminem blames bad parenting), and he’s just capitalizing on Uncle Sam’s dark side. On the Marshall Mathers LP, he’s ambivalent about his fame, angry at his life, pissed off that people take him seriously, and fightin’ mad at boy bands—and a lot of other white people. But the blue-eyed brat is acutely aware of his status as rap’s resident alien: he has the most offensive mouth running, but never uses the “N” word. He gives lyrical love to tragic (black) legends like Tupac and Biggie while dissing white rappers hard. Even sitting duck Puffy gets the kid-gloves treatment. Of course, Eminem is an interesting, witty rapper, and there’s some nice production on this CD, courtesy of Dr. Dre and others. But the hatred in Eminem’s rhymes makes the album rotten at its core. And his protests that Slim Shady is just a persona become less convincing with each arrest. Then again, Eminem’s got it hard: he’s rich, famous, white, and male. —Lizz Mendez Berry

His second album finds Eminem struggling to contain the pressures of success. And he’s dealing it with it disgracefully. The Detroit rapper’s multiple identities are more mixed up than ever, with Marshall Mathers fighting for prominence against his alter egos: Eminem, Slim Shady, Kenneth Kaniff and his public image. Don’t be fooled by the album title: apart from the eponymous “Marshall Mathers” (which runs the lyrical gamut from maudlin to maniacal) you won’t learn too much about “the real Slim Shady” here. As fiction bleeds into reality, Eminem aggravates the wound to increase the flow. The Dr Dre/Mel-Man productions on this record don’t have the slap-happy bounce of those from the Slim Shady LP; all drums and bass, they’re ghostly, minimised slabs of roto-funk. Except, of course for the gleefully self-referential single “The Real Slim Shady”, for which Dre appropriately cuts in some of the picked-guitar from his own “Forgot About Dre”. Eminem’s own co-productions with F.B.T. veer from the bounce to the ounce of “Drug Ballad” to the full-metal jacket of “Kim”, where you get to find out all the gruesome details of how Eminem’s paramour ended up in the back of that trunk (from Slim Shady’s “’97 Bonnie and Clyde”). And believe me, it ain’t pretty. If anything there’s a lesson to be learnt here: money, success, drugs, murderous intent, mental trauma and schizophrenia are all just as American as apple pie. —Chris Campion

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