The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem – 2000
First listen?: Yes
Disturbed, revolutionary, sickening, groundbreaking, controversial, iconic; The Marshall Mathers LP is all of these things. It’s the only Hip-Hop record to even come close to the top 60 biggest selling albums of all time and it’s unlike anything else on this list. I love rap music, it’s a little known fact (See: Blatantly obvious) that my all time favourite album is by Kanye West. I love the genre, but I’ve never been 100% on board with Eminem. Yes, Lose Yourself is an exceptional song. Yes he’s by far the most commercially successful rapper of all time. But something has always stopped me from diving into his back catalog. It’s still quite surprising that I’d never listened to The Marshall Mathers LP in full before now. In the end it summed up just about everything that I thought of Eminem. Across the course of tracks like Kill You, Drug Ballad and Bitch Please II Slim Shady manages to offend just about everyone that isn’t a straight white man. It’s certainly provocative, with moments like The Way I Am honing Eminem’s ‘angry’ persona much better than most of the other tracks here. The Real Slim Shady takes things up another notch, where he takes pot shots at his contemporaries in the music industry, but remains in control with his air tight flow. It’s undeniable that Eminem’s control of lyrics and flow was unlike just about anyone else in 2000, but at times it feels like he doesn’t actually have anything worthwhile to say. Things begin to come to a head on title track Marshall Mathers where the word ‘faggot’ is thrown around like no one listening could possibly have a problem. There are two songs on The Marshall Mathers LP that sum up both how excellent and terrible the album is. Stan is one of the defining records of the 00s, Dido’s ethereal vocals on the chorus clashing against the Em’s thrilling storytelling verses. It’s brutal, but in a harrowing way. Kim on the other hand is a song so disgustingly awful that sat here writing this I had to switch it off a few seconds in. A song where Eminem dreams up the murder of his ex wife and her new husband and child, while their own daughter sleeps in the other room isn’t a ‘powerful record’ it’s just awful and my time with The Marshall Mathers LP is defined by this one track. A breakthrough moment in Hip-Hop where Rap finally became the worldwide force it is today, The Marshall Mathers LP just didn’t live up to the hype for me. In the 16 years since, we’ve had true albums come from the Rap genre and this falls way short for me.
Will I listen again?: No
Best Track: It’s telling that the singles from an album as dark and harrowing as The Marshall Mathers LP are the most commercial things on here, but Stan is undeniably the moment things actually fall into place here.