Read XXL’s Original Review of Eminem’s ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’
Ed. Note: This review originally ran in the January/February 2001 issue of XXL Magazine. In honor of the 19th anniversary of Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP, we are re-running our classic review here.
Let's put all the personal shit aside, we can admit it. We're not stupid. Eminem is one of the best MCs in the world today and the MM LP is slammin' from beginning to end. Ooops the little bastard did it again. He looked right in the eyes of that sophomore jinx and spit in her eye.
No question, Em stepped his game up. His flow got tighter, his lyrics sharper, his concepts refined. Our favorite: not "Stan" but "The Way I Am," the big fuck-off to pen pushers like us. On this brilliant self-production, the cracker rhymes to the cadence of the crackling baseline instead of the drums. Both verses are so quotable they don't do justice on paper. And mere adjectives can't do justice to the sonic punch this LP packs.
Clearly the best produced album of the year, overseen by you know who. And if you don't know, besides being a sharp verse writer, Em packs more hooks than Joe Frazier. Choose your weapon. How 'bout "Who Knew": "I never knew I would get this big/I never knew I would affect this kid." Or the lovely title track: "I'm just Marshall Mathers/I'm just a regular guy, I don't know why all the fuss about me/Come and see me in the streets alone if you assholes doubt me." And of course the single. Hey herbs sing along, I'm sure even Em's sick of this joint by now. It goes: "I'm Slim Shady, yes, I'm the real shady/All you other Slim Shadys are just imitating/So won't the real Slim Shady please stand up?/Please stand up?"
OK, sit down. There's no such thing as a perfect album like we said earlier so for all you doubters there are a few weaknesses that MM possesses. First, the first two bangers "Kill You" and "Stan" are one verse too long. The latter is most glaring. What seems to elude most critics who praise "Stan" for its genius fan-artist exploration, is that "Hollywood-ending"-last verse that seems so out of place. Do you think Em would really choose to write back someone like that? Be serious.
And is that Insane Clown Posse blow job skit ("Ken Kaniff") really necessary? Yeah they dissed him first but just like Em's other favorite targets (N Sync, Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears) nobody in hip-hop gives a flying fuck about ICP.
What else? "Criminal " is a tad cheesy. "Kim" is a little extreme. And there is some filler. "Remember Me," a bizarre collabo with RBX and Stick Fingaz sticks out like a sore thumb and his cuts with his crew D-12 are like the great sonic moments when Busta Rhymes and his Flipmode Squad come together.
OK, we're hating a little too much. Em's album is still great. Really.