The Marshall Mathers LP
If Eminem's debut, The Slim Shady LP, was a rule-breaking, trash-talking shot in the arm to a pop culture already bored by the tired antics of our Mansons and Madonnas, then the new album by this Detroit rhyme slayer should resonate like a collision with an armored truck. The Marshall Mathers LP is filled to near-implosion with enough obscenity-laced outrageousness, jaw-dropping accounts of violence, and sheer white-hot offensiveness to make it the most articulated hyperbolic manifesto since Ice-T and Body Count last dusted some cops off in 1992. Throughout the album's 70-minute duration, Em manages to sexually abuse his own mother, murder his wife and producer, condone drugs, ruthlessly bait countless celebrities, holler homophobic rantings, and gleefully scat about Christopher Reeve, all with the same frenetic rhyme style, attention to alliteration, ruthless energy, and remarkable cadence that still make him one of the most engaging and gifted MCs in the business. Besides his progressive raps, his ironic, button-pushing role model character, Slim Shady, couldn't be any more relevant in the post-Columbine era of media scrutiny. Em addresses his role as an art-reflects-life archetype where he explains "my morals went thhbbpp when the President got oral," and puts the responsibility on youth aggression solely on poor parenting, but only between tongue-in-cheek rhymes admitting to performing nightly rituals of domestic abuse. Despite his politics-meets-provocateur personality, don't expect mainstream society to treat him as the poignant media pundit he deserves to be, especially after "Kim," a hauntingly screamed tirade providing the blow-by-blow action of Em slitting his wife's throat - quite possibly one of the most un-apologetically diabolical tracks ever put on wax, rap or otherwise. Dr. Dre's staccato-heavy, melodic production rounds out a truly dynamic and diverse record, including live guitar in the sorrowful "Stan," the neo-G-funk of "Remember Me?," or "Kim"'s Wagner-ian bluster. By re-adopting his birth-given name of Marshall Mathers, Eminem's schizophrenic visions are all the more realistic, tangible, pointed, and frightening.