Album review: Eminem’s ‘MMLP2’ signifies a return to old form

“Relapse” was strange. “Recovery” was rather formulaic. “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” is something of a return to form.

While not on par with his earliest efforts, Eminem finally regains a measure of his old self with his newest album. The album’s name is a bit misleading – it’s not really comparable to 2000’s “The Marshall Mathers LP,” mostly because this latest installment is less about Eminem establishing himself as a player in the hip hop game and more about searching for his legacy as an artist and a human being.

That being said, “MMLP2” has several references to the albums that made Em a star. In the first track, “Bad Guy,” Eminem tells a story about being kidnapped by the brother of Stan, the chief character in his legendary track by the same name. In “So Far…” there is a riff that is taken directly out of the instrumental from “The Real Slim Shady.” In “Headlights,” he expresses remorse for tracks like “Cleaning Out My Closet.”

But is “MMLP2” vintage Eminem? Well, if you like fast-charging lyrics and incomparable wordplay, then it very much lives up to the hype. If you want to relive Eminem when he had a laugh-out-loud sense of humor, this album will make you very happy. But if you’re looking for the deranged, no-holds-barred Em of old, you might be disappointed.

“MMLP2” was always destined to be over-analyzed as well as compared and contrasted with Eminem’s older work; the album’s name in and of itself invited these comparisons. Em still writes hip hop’s catchiest hooks and the production is spot on for the majority of the track list. Songs like “Berzerk” might seem messy at first, but a second listen reveals it’s quite a good song.

If we step back and look at “MMLP2” as it’s own piece of work and stop comparing it to previous iterations of Eminem, we’ll realize that it’s a very good set of songs. While the album doesn’t enhance Eminem’s overall reputation as a rapper, it does absolutely nothing to damage it. If this happens to be the last album from the world’s best-selling hip-hop artist, fans (as well as Eminem himself) should be satisfied.