Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP 2 [Aftermath/Shady/Interscope, 2013]
Because I was between gigs when it came out in late 2013, I never reviewed Eminem's finest post-Encore release. But with Kamikaze dropped just nine months after Revival was trampled into the sod by a gaggle of sheep, I remain impressed by an underrated album that left Eminem well behind such dullards as Queens of the Stone Age and Phosphorescent in the Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll that year. Already Marshall Mathers had worn out his welcome like Jerry Lee Lewis banished with his child bride, an analogy anyone who knows more than two Jerry Lee songs should consider. Lewis wasn't a very stable or likable guy either, but he was an irrepressible virtuoso. He seemed connected to his piano by the brain stem, so imbued with music that he emitted it unbidden, launching songs of every provenance that he might do this way and might do that--or the other. Eminem is far less spontaneous. But here his musicality runs free as his practiced articulation reminds us what flow used to mean, delivering lyrics honed until every line offers up an internal rhyme or stealth homophone or surprise pun or trick enjambment. Also, he holds his Slim Shady side in check here--offensive cracks remain undeveloped, with the "I'm a sucker for love you a sucker for dick" stanza delivered by none other than guest paragon Kendrick Lamar. You don't like it, you don't really like the art form, simple as that. A