At no time are Eminem’s signature lyrics “Shady’s back, tell a friend” more applicable than right now. The rap industry is buzzing as the veteran MC is set to release his eighth solo album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (MMLP2), on November 5, 2013.
The album name seems to suggest that Eminem seeks to hark back to his early days, with the original Marshall Mathers LP being released in 2000 to widespread critical acclaim. The original album spawned well known hits such as The Real Slim Shady, The Way I Am and Stan. The album sold 1.76 million copies in its first week and was the fastest selling rap album of all time. But whether the artist affectionately known as Slim Shady can replicate the success of the first Marshall Mathers LP remains to be seen.
In years past there would be no doubt that any Eminem album would be a critical and commercial success. But the rap game has changed and Eminem’s style of intelligent, lyrically strong hip-hop may not be what the fans want anymore. With the Trap culture blossoming people are more interesting in heavy beats that girls can dance provocatively to in the club, rather than synonyms and word play. In fact Shady speaks on the matter in the 2010 song Syllables saying, “It is not about lyrics anymore, it’s about a hot beat and a catchy hook”.
But there may yet be hope. Young up-and-coming rappers such as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Drake have recently released lyrically strong albums and achieved commercial success. But in all honesty any album that Eminem puts his name on will be gleefully snapped up by his legions of dedicated fans who grew up listening to his unique brand of vulgar and controversial hip-hop known as “Shock Rap”.
Yet even before the album is released it has garnered criticism. The latest single Rap God, released on October 15, 2013, has been called homophobic and vulgar by many. Yet Eminem is no stranger to controversy, in fact he has built his career on it and his tongue in cheek commentary on homophobia has earned him millions of fans over the years. His last studio album Recovery was extremely dark and documented his struggles with drugs and the death of close friend and confidant Proof. But judging by the first three singles off MMLP2 the old Slim Shady is back and every rapper out there is on notice.
- Eminem Unveils The Marshall Mathers LP 2 Track List (hiphopwired.com)
- Eminem’s homophobic ‘Rap God’ lyrics: Still getting away with it? (music-mix.ew.com)