For the sequel to his 2000 album "The Marshall Mathers LP," Eminem again wrestles with his various personas to, theoretically, try to build a life as an adult.
Though sequels may work for movie blockbusters, "The Marshall Mathers LP 2" (Aftermath) shows why they don't work for musical ones.
From a musical standpoint, all the looking back has promise, especially in the Rick Rubin-produced throwback "Berzerk." Thematically, though, figuring out how to be a man may be an understandable theme for a 28-year-old, but it's ridiculous for a 41-year-old, especially one as accomplished and respected as Eminem. And lyrically, Em's old targets just don't hold up well 13 years later.
"I'm frustrated cause ain't no more 'NSync, now I'm all out of whack," he raps in "Evil Twin." "I'm all out of Backstreet Boys to call out and attack." Worse yet, he ruins "Rap God," which really does showcase his impressive rapping skill and clever rhymes, with homophobic slurs and a lengthy rant about a "little gay-looking boy" that's meant as a put-down, but just makes Em seem even more insecure.
How can he claim to be a "Rap God" one moment and so worried about challengers the next? Oh right, he's Eminem. He somehow turns The Zombies love song "Time of the Season" into something boastful, yet self-pitying.
And in his update of "Stan," Eminem has a character take him to task, rapping, "I'm your karma closing in with each stroke of a pen." Well, the fastest way out of this hole, Em, is to stop digging.
"The Marshall Mathers LP 2"
BOTTOM LINE Mining the past for musical and lyrical inspiration.