King of throwdown has got his mojo back
EMINEM: The Marshall Mathers LP2 (Interscope)
Once, the big question in pop music was, "Who do you love?" Then, 13 years ago, Eminem made hate as fashionable as a new Kangol hat. The president of the United States, George W Bush, branded him "the worst thing to happen to American youth since polio".
But the guy from the urban wasteland that is Detroit had the fingers of one hand on the pulse of a society whose anger, angst and screwed-up ambitions he could articulate. The other hand was on the throat of the faceless administrators, beggars on horseback who, to paraphrase WB Yeats, lash the beggars on foot.
I struggled to find much evidence of the dude's genius in the multimillion-selling Recovery and Relapse and a bunch of his mid-career albums.
But having survived the warped phantasmagoria of celebrity, Marshall Bruce Mathers III has reconnected with the psychic wounds of his childhood and rediscovered that "anger is an energy".
"Angels fight with devils and here's what they want from me," he rages on Rap God. The album's opening salvo, Bad Guy, is a proper sequel. "I'm coming for closure. . . you thought it was over," his demon advises. As a story of confusion and turmoil unfolds, Eminem's storytelling gift is re-confirmed.
Dr Dre and Rick Rubin both get executive producer credits. They drop the bomb. Rasping industrial on Asshole. Def Jam-style, incorporating Billy Squiers' The Stroke, on Berzerk.
Then Rhyme or Reason kicks off with 1960s' English band The Zombies' melodic Time of the Season as Eminem attempts to come to terms with the influence of his father.
"Let's have us a father and son talk ... it's all your fault ... misery loves company."
There are well-paid psychiatrists who' have yet to hear stories as pained and convoluted as this.
With 16 tracks here, there's plenty to chew on. The bonus tracks package adds another five cuts. The king of the throwdown has his mojo back. "I'm not a rapper. I'm an adapter," he insists. HHHHH