Eminem’s new album lands on 5th November, interestingly/worryingly titled Marshall Mathers LP 2, a sequel to his seminal Marshall Mathers LP- one of the best hip-hop albums in history (an argument for a different time). I call it worrying based on Em’s recent form- if we’re honest, his last LP that was anywhere near good was The Eminem Show, and despite mainstream approval, the pop-influenced direction of Recovery didn’t change that. I say all this as one of the few that didn’t mind Relapse too, despite his weird voice on it.
There are positives though: MMLP2 is helmed by Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin. Once you press play on this, it’s Rubin’s involvement that becomes most notable- if Em is heading back to his ‘roots’ with the album’s title, Rubin’s done the same with his production involvement here, throwing forth a backdrop that’s right out of his mid/late-80s production playbook. The punk/hip-hop crossover that made Rubin famous makes a thumping comeback here, combining sharp guitars with pounding percussion for a Beastie Boys-esque beat, adding an intense, upbeat energy to Eminem’s raps that goes some way to scrubbing away the pop-driven works of the Recovery singles. It’s not the aggressive, angry Eminem that I suspect many want, but it’s got some classic Em hallmarks, from the dexterous flows through to some of the clever lines used, whilst also fitting in with Em’s traditional ‘light-hearted lead single’ routine. I can see why many won’t like this, but it’s far closer to properly utilising Em’s talents than his previous album offered, and that’s not a bad sign ahead of the album release.