Or is he just more determined than ever to top his masterpiece?
Em recently dropped a blonde bomb on us in announcing that his next album will be called The Marshall Mathers LP 2; a sequel to his masterpiece and still the most controversial and dramatic album in hip-hop… perhaps ANY modern music history thus far? Wow; ballsy move Em, ballsy move.
Ballsy is definitely what I’ve personally been vying for from Em to be since he decided to take mild criticism to heart about Relapse (2009) and create the sometimes excellent but highly compromised follow-up: Recovery (2010). Em raps his ass off on both albums, as usual (and doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his technical innovation) of course, but neither album really went down as a classic.
Time then, to take what he’s learned from the past two and create his 4th classic album?
The Marshall Mathers LP 2 would certainly be a fitting title for that. But unless the material shares conceptual or thematic heritage with the original, then the title will pretty much mean nothing and seem like a tacky move. I hope that’s not the case, and I highly doubt it is; Em is not the type to just take his most acclaimed album and put out an official sequel to it 13 years later for no good reason, other than sales or ‘the fuck of it’… this must clearly mean something. This material must be bonkers, bat-shit crazy or just downright gob-spewing in that same vein. Okay, now I’ve excited myself… not in that way!
We have been given an official glimpse in to the potential sound of the album, and it’s called “Berzerk”…
This is the first official single from MMLP2, and it seems to indicate a potential ‘throwback’ to 80s hip-hop theme to the album, which we may assume is just for the visual of this single and video, if not for the involvement of Rick Rubin, and the production of this track. And check out Em’s initial flow here.
For those who don’t know – Rick Rubin is a legendary producer who produced such classics as Raising Hell by Run-D.M.C., Radio by LL Cool J, and of course Licensed to Ill by the Beastie Boys; the strong homage and influence toward whom, can clearly be heard in “Berzerk” throughout.
What’s most impressive is Em’s decision to do such a blatant love letter to hip-hop, at this stage in his career. Generally speaking, you may in fact expect it at this point aka the ‘later phase’ of a rapper’s career, but, Em is hardly winding down. His last album had two of the biggest hits, and in fact THE biggest hit (“Love the Way You Lie”) since he stepped foot in to the commercial arena of rap music, all those 14 years ago. Plus, Em is just not usually the type to do something like this; he very much just does his own thing; never has he so openly done something like this, and I think… it’s pretty cool.
I had been hoping Em would take a bit of inspiration from Kanye in really pinning down a defining aesthetic for whatever album came after Recovery. Not that Em doesn’t always find a ‘look’ and a ‘feel’ for his albums, but picking something as distinctive and meaningful to hip-hop as this, and really kind of… standing by that visual and allowing it to live and breathe through the music, is quite startling.
Production is still a bit of a concern, personally, as I am hoping this is not loud and abusive like Recovery, which it is already showing signs of being. The original MMLP was sparse and stripped down, and that’s what allowed Em’s fierce rapping to take centre-stage and really grab you at every turn; it’s clear, loud, crisp and in your face, your ears can’t hide from it. I just hope this it he case with MMLP2.
One thing I think we can all say for sure, is… he shocked us again. Never in a million years would have I expected him to do this, at this point… I mean, Em is essentially now asking us to compare his new work to his most prized. This is risky fucking business. And it’s fucking exciting. MMLP2 is coming!!
What’s your thoughts on all of this, how pumped or worried are you?