Written by Jonathan Barker. Media by Austin Schumacher.
The Marshall Mathers LP 2 was released on Tuesday, November 5th, topping the iTunes album charts and is currently on pace to top 750k sales through the first week. The album was not necessarily intended to be a sequel to his 2000 sophomore album, but rather a re-visitation on not only the first Marshall Mathers LP, but on his entire career. The 42 year-old teamed up with Rick Rubin, founder of Def Jam Records, appointing him as the executive producer along with Dr. Dre (of course).
Eminem, a.k.a. Marshall Mathers, has done it again! Yes, the constantly angry white rapper is unable to create a song without using a plethora of profanity, but just for a second, neglect your presumed notion that all his content is highly inappropriate, and look at his art for what it is; a reflection of his inner thoughts and emotions.
I could write several pages on each individual song, but instead I will highlight a few songs that stood out the most to me. Mathers begins the album with “Bad Guy,” a seven-minute sequel to one of his most well known hits, “Stan.” Although this song is a continuation of the fictional crazed fan, its metaphorical content could make even a casual listener cringe (I won’t give too much away). He shows that he is his own biggest critic and well aware of the effects of his music.
Key lyrics: “I’m the karma closing in with every stroke of a pen.”
In the next few tracks he keeps his classic alter ego’s sense of humor while sharing his attitude towards his father, ex-wife, and critics of his music who feel he is no longer relevant in today’s hip hop scene. Which brings me to “Rap God.” From a conservative Christian standpoint, the whole concept of this song may be a bit blasphemous, but don’t tune out. During this fast-paced song, he exerts his lyrical dominance over his competition labeling himself the god of hip hop, and others should take note. (Bias alert) I can’t quite explain it through one paragraph so just listen to the song if you are looking to hear greatness.
Key Lyrics: “MC’s get taken to school with this music cause I use it as a vehicle to bust a rhyme, now I lead a new school full of students.”
After “Brainless” and a vulnerable reflection on his relationship with his ex-wife in “Stronger Than I Was,” comes possibly the climax of the album, “The Monster.” This may sound like a typical radio hit collaboration with Rihanna, as in his previous album. However, as one takes a deeper look they can see there is much more to this song. His verses address his alter and on-stage ego, Slim Shady. He comes to final grips with the darkness inside of him accepting that it is genuine along with the expectations that come with this famous persona. He also addresses this same topic on the final track of the album, “Evil Twin.”
Key Lyrics: “Fame me a balloon cause my ego inflated. When I blew, see, but it was confusing.”
After a few humorous songs including a surprise guest feature with Kendrick Lamar, Eminem creates a song none of his followers ever could have seen coming. For his entire life, he has had bitter feelings towards his supposed abusive mother and has not been shy to speak on it throughout his musical career (“Cleaning Out My Closet” is one example). However, in “Headlights” he creates closure with his mother. The significance of this song is shown in his maturity in his music and character.
Key Lyrics: “But as stubborn as we are, did I take it too far?…But regardless I don’t hate you. Cause you’re still beautiful to me, cause’ you’re my mom.”
So why did I write this article? Furthermore, why did you read this? The answer is context. We Christians always try to do our best to develop a sense of context when reading a passage in the Bible. Why shouldn’t we do this to every piece of art we look at? I encourage you to openly question the intentions the next time you hear a lyric that may seem inappropriate to you. In good art, there is a reason for everything.
In conclusion, this album paves opportunity for an examination of people’s comfort zones here at GC. I feel many students box their music selection into the same generic worship lyrics, avoiding anything that does not claim to directly give glory to God. However, just as reading the same books over and over again is not the most efficient way to educate oneself, one should avoid doing so in the medium of music. Whether you agree or disagree with another’s perspective, it is still vital to listen to what the opposite speaker has to say or the conversation is pointless.