The next album from Eminem, “The Marshall Mathers LP”, is one of the best examples I have heard of an artist progressing and getting stronger with a subsequent release. Not that I didn’t like his last album, “The Slim Shady LP”, I just think this is a much deeper and better overall album. This opinion is not really influenced that much by the darker and more serious content on this record, although that is definitely the case. Primarily, it is a reflection on what I think is the continued evolution of his MC skills, and the ever-improving production results from Dr. Dre and Eminem on this record. Apparently others heard this progress as well, as this album is probably his mostly highly regarded album and is rated #145 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
There is always plenty of inherent anger in his music, and sometimes I’m not quite sure why he’s quite this upset with the world, but it certainly comes out in “Kill You”. Next comes the memorable story of “Stan”, the overly-obsessed fictional fan that probably most artists have to deal with in reality. Beyond the obvious tragic examples of John Lennon, Dimebag Darrell from Pantera, and Selena, among others, there are lots of scary near-miss stories out there. Built on the appropriately sad loop of “Thank You” by Dido, the give and take between “Stan” and Eminem is probably closer to truth than we want to imagine, particularly in today’s overly present world that lives out on social media platforms.
“The Real Slim Shady” is the other centerpiece of this album, and this one is a natural favorite for most. Properly centered between absurd, funky, quirky, and highly appealing, this song is definitely a signature song for Eminem’s brilliance on the microphone. There is an obvious reason why Dre overlooked racial bias and pre-conceived expectations to throw his support behind Eminem, and this track is a clear example of both of their talents.
Speaking of Dre, it is great to hear him on “Bitch Please II”, alongside Eminem and Snoop Dogg, along with Nate Dogg and Xzibit. It is a welcome relief from some pretty heavy tunes and themes, and certainly is one of the most notable collaborations within Eminem’s catalog.
Some songs on this album are almost too much to take. “Kim”, a bizarre hate track about his wife at the time, is hard to process and even harder to listen to, even if it is just meant to serve as a love-hate example and not reality.
Thankfully, there are other tracks much more to my liking. “The Way I Am”, “I’m Back”, and “Remember Me?”, featuring RBX and Sticky Fingaz, are my other three favorites on this record. Again, I hear more intense music of quality, and less comical nonsense than the last record, and I think both Eminem and his production team, led by Dre, deserve a lot of credit. There is more still to come from Eminem, but this album will always be looked at as perhaps his highest peak artistically