The Marshall Mathers LP 2 comes on the brink of a significant anniversary for veteran emcee Eminem.
Nearly 15 years ago, the controversial rapper dropped his first major label debut album, The Slim Shady LP, to much fanfare and critical acclaim. Since then, he’s been hailed as one of the best lyricists to ever touch a microphone and helped quiet the notion that rap was exclusively a ‘black thing.’
Not only has he collaborated with the who’s who of the industry, from Snoop Dogg and Jay Z to Kanye and Lil’ Wayne, but more often than not, he’s out-rapped them. He’s the only rapper with two albums to be certified diamond and the first rapper to win an Oscar. Since “My Name is” he’s proven worthy of belonging on hip-hop’s Mount Rushmore by rapping about what he knows, whether that be mountains of ‘shrooms or wanting to throw his ex-wife into a trunk of a car while his daughter rode shotgun.
Whether people can directly relate to his eccentric tales or not, one thing is evident: He’s an elite lyricist.
Aside from starring in cult-classics (8 Mile) and giving memorable performances at the Grammy’s alongside the last person imaginable (Elton John) amid protests surrounding lyrics many viewed to be homophobic, Eminem has accomplished and proven more to a culture that is, when compared to other genres, still in its infancy.
Despite all of the accolades and praise, however, Eminem’s career hasn’t been flawless. While fans consistently go out and support him by purchasing his records, after “Encore,” the decreasing quality of his albums started to show proof of mortality in hip-hop’s “Rap God.” His most recent efforts, including his new release MMLP2, have been plagued with stadium-rap anthems and littered with cheesy punchlines—complete with choruses from the likes of Rihanna, Pink, and Skylar Grey.
Granted, at this stage in his career, his legacy is pretty much cemented. He’s adored and appreciated by rap fans across the globe and revered by his hip-hop counterparts. Still, Eminem is living proof that not everyone gets to go out like John Elway—retiring while clutching the championship. Debates over whether or not emcees like Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., who both passed during the prime of their careers, could flourish in rap if they were living are still being held in 2013—not so much focusing on whether or not they could still sell records, but rather if they would they still have ‘it.’
Almost 15 years removed from his first LP, hip-hop is watching that discussion play out with Eminem.
Marshall Mathers is one of the best to ever get in the booth and start rapping, but at this point, with what he’s currently putting out, do we like that he still is?
Brandon Neasman is a freelance writer who has penned articles for both national and regional publications, including usweekly.com and the Hard Rock Hotel’s Las Vegas magazine. A graduate from Florida A&M University, Brandon is an editor at mostlyjunkfood.com and a graphic designer for the Gannett Company, Inc. You can follow him on Twitte