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Review The Marshall Mathers LP

The Marshall Mathers LP on 09-10-2000

"You don't wanna f**k with shady cause Shady gonna f**kin kill you." So begins Eminem's second album and extended rant directed at the American moral majority, obsessive fans, teen pop stars and, y'know, pretty much anyone who isn't Eminem or his favourite producer Dr Dre.
But, as tiresome as these themes become, the skilful, though frequently distasteful, wit with which the young Detroit upstart delivers the rhymes keeps 'The Marshall Mathers LP' on it's toes. The album's second track, 'Stan', produced by The 45 King, gives an early insight into the changing world of Eminem. The song
records a series of increasingly obsessive letters sent to our hero by a somewhat disturbed fan, culminating in the eventual written response from a paternal Eminem who warns against mistreating your girlfriend and investing too much in his own off the cuff lyrics. Which is good of him.

"How the f**k was I supposed to know?" asks Eminem on 'Who Knew', like a spoilt, indignant child who refuses to take responsibility for his actions. Conflicting with the sense of social responsibility that he carefully crafts on 'Stan', this seems to be his ultimate conclusion throughout an album's worth of dissing 'bitches', 'homos' and all the other targets of abuse that buzz throughout his little mind.

What's happening here is just the latest manifestation of what is often referred to as Dr Dre's 'marketing genius', though figuring out that upsetting a lot of old people and moral guardians leads to good sales in the youth market is hardly rocket science. The depressing thing is that this particular brand of controversy hasn't been stimulated by the image of KRS-1 staring out the window with a 9mm on 'By Any Means Necessary' or Public Enemy taking the institutional racism of white-owned American record companies to court on 'It Takes A Nation Of Millions…'.

This is lowest common denominator hip hop, Dre's 'marketing genius' realising that the Beavis and Buttheads all over America who lap up Limp Bizkit's fusion of rock and rap are crying out for a dumbed down, stupid white rap icon - along with, it seems, our own British rock press. And here he is with no special respect for the often proud culture that he gleefully tramples under his self-obsessed rantings.

The production, however, is first rate, Dre proving that he really is on fire at the moment. Eminem's microphone skills are similarly beyond question – though a little too shouty on occasion. It's just that his self-indulgent and irritatingly stupid rants will prove too much for any audience that recognises irony in Beavis and Butthead.

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