Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
The Marshall Mathers LP contains several exemplars of Eminem at his most effective: when he’s in retaliation mode.
He tosses out his most devastating critical counter-arguments on the track Who Knew.
One of the many punches he lands:
“And told me that my tape taught ’em to swear
What about the make-up you allow your 12-year-old daughter to wear?”
The guest stars surprisingly detract from the album, with the exception of the Dido sample on Stan. Marshall Mathers is at his most compelling as a one-man show. Or I suppose a three-man show if you include his alter-egos Eminem & Slim Shady.
Undoubtedly, he says plenty of irresponsible things, at a particularly sensitive time period in U.S. history. You could argue it’s patronizing to say that people won’t realize he is usually, to borrow his term, ‘clowning.’ Then again, as even he observed on the exceptional track Stan, not all fans will realize it’s theatre.
I like to think much of the controversy was intentional. When responding to criticism, I picture him reacting like Axl Rose in GNR’s Get In The Ring: “You want to antagonize me? Antagonize me ______! Get in the ring _____! And I’ll kick your _____!” Though he outdid GNR when it came to romance gone bad; if the subject matter of GNR’s Used to Love Her was disturbing, Kim is unbearable.
The Marshall Mathers LP is horrifying at times, darkly funny at others. Throughout, Eminem understood the fundamental equation that was lost his protestors: More protests + more controversy = More airtime/publicity/sales.
Business savvy aside, there’s some steak with the sizzle. Eminem
may will never be universally embraced as the ‘spokesperson of a generation’ but few in recent memory have been better with a pen.
There’s no denying the talent.