Remember when Eminem was invincible? Back when his disturbingly personal verses all but created emo-rap, and every self-conscious emcee from Kanye to Future in the process? When his lyricism and flow put a top-of-his-game Jay-Z to shame on The Blueprint? Eminem clearly does, as everything about The Marshal Mathers LP 2 seems calculated to rekindle that real Slim Shady magic. The bad first: MMLP2 is not even close to the return of invincible Em. Like a 40-year-old trying to remember how he got laid back in the day, Mather's dusts off every old trick in his book: Kevin Federline jokes, spousal abuse fantasies, even quotes from his classic hits. It's as clumsy as you'd expect. And the good? Em the technician, the guy that once rapped circles around Hov, is still here in glorious form. He spits 101 words in 16 seconds on "Rap God." He packs rhymes within rhymes Inception-style on every verse. Probably most telling is the choice to invite Kendrick Lamar, hip-hop's current technique king, to spar on "Love Game." Em not only comes out of the fray unscathed, but manages to show in the process how indebted the likes of Earl Sweatshirt, Danny Brown and Kendrick are to his pioneering style. So is MMLP2 mostly nonsense? Sure, but as Mr. Mathers himself claims, he's the undisputed King of Nonsense.
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