Revisiting Classics: The Marshall Mathers LP
In the summer of 2000, The Real Slim Shady took the world of hip-hop by storm with his second major studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP. The angry blonde from Detroit confronted his detractors head-on with this piece of lyrical genius. Regarded as one of the greatest rap albums ever written, it paved the way for Eminem to become one of the greatest rappers of all time. The album consists of some of the most iconic songs that redefined rap. With his brilliant wordplay, rhymes, and unapologetic dark humour, Eminem made a name for himself as one of the best lyricists of his generation. Despite all the controversy that surrounded the album, it won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album of 2001.
The opening song of the album was a diss track on his mother who sued him due to certain lyrics in the song ‘My Name is’ in The Slim Shady LP. It consisted of incredibly profane lyrics and had been slammed by his critics for portraying violence. ‘Kim’ was also a chilling song with much more blind rage than ‘Kill You’, targeted at his ex-wife Kimberly Scott. The song was filled with graphic violent descriptions; moreover, intense vocals added to the emotion of the song. ‘Marshall Mathers’ was another such song that was filled with a massive sense of exasperation about the fact that the same people who looked down on him when he was going through tough times, now seek his attention after he has become rich and famous.
‘Stan’ is regarded as one of the greatest rap songs of all time. Eminem combined his rhyming skills with a gripping story-line to create this masterpiece where he managed to capture the emotions of an overzealous fan extremely well. Eminem, who once studied the dictionary, contributed to the addition of a word in the Oxford Dictionary for which they cited him as the likely originator. Moreover, a female hook by Dido added to the appeal of the song. The way he managed to maintain a multi-syllabic rhyme scheme while maintaining a story-line is a skill very few possess.
In ‘The Way I Am’, Eminem vented his anger against everyone who wouldn’t let him be the way he is. The flow of the lyrics and the ease with which Eminem delivered them was simply mind-blowing. Even though the song is filled with a tremendous amount of rage, his lyrics leave the listener completely awestruck with his brilliant wordplay as he took jabs at the media, and even the parents of his own fans in the song. ‘Who Knew’ and ‘Under The Influence’ were two songs in which he hit back at his critics for influencing young minds with violent ideas. The hook of ‘Who Knew’ goes, “I never knew I, knew I would get this big/ I never knew I, knew I’d affect this kid.” He talks about how he had never expected to reach the heights he scaled and did not think about affecting kids with his music.
‘The Real Slim Shady’ and ‘I’m Back’ were two phenomenal songs in which Em tickled the listeners’ funny bone with his wild imagination and bizarre yet hysterical descriptions. In ‘The Real Slim Shady’, Eminem rapped about how he is one of a kind, and no matter how much anyone tried to emulate him, it would not be possible to reach his level. Moreover, he attributed his success to the fact that he said things that people only joke about behind closed doors, “I’m like a head trip to listen to/ ‘Cause I’m only giving you, things you joke about with your friends/ Inside your living room.” I’m Back, on the other hand, was about how Shady does not really care for his critics for he is his own critic and puts it in the most creative way imaginable, “You better get rid of that nine it ain’t gonna help/ What good is it gonna do against a man that strangles himself?” This song is a compelling listen with Eminem firing shots at various pop stars with his wacky sense of humour.
‘Criminal’ was another work of sheer brilliance, in fact, it was a satire on what people dislike him tend to view him as. He starts the song by saying, “A lot of people think that what I say on a record or what I talk about on a record, that I actually do in real life or that I believe in it/ Or if I say that I wanna kill somebody that I’m actually gonna do it or that I believe in it.” His well-crafted rhymes and wordplay created quite a few punch lines. Throughout the song, Eminem described himself as, “The bad guy who makes fun of people to die.”
The way he managed to connect each song in the album was jaw-dropping. It is one of the most well-crafted works of rap and shall remain up there in the list of one of the best hip-hop albums of all time. The Marshall Mathers LP is impossible to pull your ears from, as it captures the listeners’ imagination and takes them into Eminem’s world. It is the complete package and has a song for every mood. The flow of his rhymes and the way he manages to grasp every emotion so well through his lyrics is commendable. This album set the foundation for Eminem’s image as the wizard who can spin gold with words.