He needs Jesus

by

The Marshall Mathers LP
  • The Marshall Mathers LP
Some records are just challenging to review.

What to do with an album that is equally disgusting and good? Ill-conceived and well-produced? Gutter-al and intensely creative?

What do you do? You inhale and reluctantly give the damn thing what it deserves. So here it goes. Eminem is damned talented. Or is it damned and talented? Whatever. He’s an MC’s MC, and an MC’s pariah. His songs are imaginative, hungry and provocative. They also show that, despite his success, he still pays considerable attention to the world from which some thought fame would rescue him.

While squashing the rules of decorum in true Eminem fashion, he twists morbid thoughts into points of order. His messages sometimes seem escapist, but mixed with raunch and wit, he manages to make society take long looks at its own hypocritical self.

My mum is on your lips!/And if I’m lucky you might just give it a little kiss/And that’s the message that we deliver to little kids/and expect ‘em not to know what a woman’s clitoris is/But of course they’re gonna know what intercourse is/By the time they hit fourth grade/they got the Discovery Channel/don’t they?

Em offers sublime moments on cuts including "Who Knew," "Kim" and "Stan." These are times when the production of 45 King, Dr. Dre and F.B.T. meet Eminem’s chilling gift for storytelling dead on. With "Stan," he plays the dual role of an obsessed, suicidal fan who exhibits increasingly self-destructive behavior in a series of letters written to an unsuspecting Slim Shady. "Kim," a prequel to "97 Bonnie and Clyde," reverts to the dramatized kidnapping and murder of his girlfriend. Their marriage does nothing to ease the friction caused when Em’s insanity rubs against the listener’s bone marrow. It sounds too real.

Unlike his debut, there are moments where the shock-rap grows tired and predictable, but the changes in rhyme flow keep things interesting. So when all is said and done, and the critic realizes that a sickening album has appealed to his senses, what do you do? Squint, turn your head and input a four-star rating, praying for forgiveness all the while.

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