The Marshall Mathers LP
|The Marshall Mathers LP|
|Studio album by Eminem|
|Released||May 23, 2000|
|Recorded||August 1999 – April 2000 at The Mix House, Encore Studios, Larrabee Sound Studio, The Record Plant, 54 Sound|
|Genre||Hardcore hip hop, horrorcore|
|Label||Aftermath, Interscope, Shady|
|Producer||The 45 King, Bass Brothers, Dr. Dre (also exec.), Eminem, Mel-Man|
|Singles from The Marshall Mathers LP|
The Marshall Mathers LP is the third studio album by American rapper Eminem. It was released on May 23, 2000, by Interscope Records in the United States, and on September 11, 2000, by Polydor Records in the United Kingdom. The album was produced mostly by Dr. Dre and Eminem, along with The 45 King, Bass Brothers, and Mel-Man.
The album sold more than 1.76 million copies in the US in the first week alone. In 2001, the album won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album and was nominated for Album of the Year. The album was certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America in the United States with shipments over 10 million. As of May 13, 2012, the record had sold 10,598,000 copies in the US. As of 2005 the album had sold over 19 million units worldwide.
The Marshall Mathers LP has been ranked as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time by Rolling Stone, Time, and XXL. Rolling Stone placed the album at number 7 on its list of the best albums of the 2000s. The album was ranked number 244 by Rolling Stone on their list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2010, Rhapsody ranked it number 1 on their "The 10 Best Albums by White Rappers" list.
Inspired by the disappointment of his debut album, Infinite (1996), Eminem created the alter ego Slim Shady, whom he introduced on The Slim Shady EP (1997). After placing second in the annual Rap Olympics, Eminem was noticed by the staff at Interscope Records and eventually CEO Jimmy Iovine, who played The Slim Shady EP for rapper Dr. Dre. Eminem and Dr. Dre then recorded The Slim Shady LP (1999), which was noted for its over-the-top lyrical depictions of drugs and violence. The Slim Shady LP became a commercial and critical success, debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 chart and selling 283,000 copies in its first week. At the 41st Grammy Awards in 1999, the record won Best Rap Album, while the album's lead single "My Name Is" won Best Rap Solo Performance.
The Slim Shady LP turned Eminem from an unknown rapper to a high-profile celebrity. The rapper, who had previously struggled to provide for his daughter Hailie, noted a drastic change in his lifestyle. He married his girlfriend Kimberly Scott, the mother of his daughter, in June 1999, despite the fact that the song "'97 Bonnie & Clyde" from The Slim Shady LP contains references to killing her. The rapper became uncomfortable with the level of fame he had achieved, and reflected, "I don't trust nobody now because everybody I meet is meeting me as Eminem...I don't know if they are hanging with me 'cause they like me or because I'm a celebrity or because they think they can get something from me." Eminem also became a highly controversial figure due to his lyrical content. He was labeled as "misogynist, a nihilist and an advocate of domestic violence", and in an editorial by Billboard editor in chief Timothy White, the writer accused Eminem of "making money by exploiting the world's misery".
The Marshall Mathers LP was recorded in a two-month-long "creative binge", which often involved 20-hour-long studio sessions. Eminem hoped to keep publicity down during the recording in order to stay focused on working and figuring out how to "map out" each song. He described himself as a "studio rat" who benefited creatively from the isolated environment of the studio. Much of the album was written spontaneously in the studio; Dr. Dre noted, "We don't wake up at two in the morning, call each other, and say, 'I have an idea. We gotta get to the studio.' We just wait and see what happens when we get there." Eminem observed that much of his favorite material on the album evolved from "fucking around" in the studio; "Marshall Mathers" developed from the rapper watching Jeff Bass casually strumming a guitar, while "Criminal" was based on a piano riff Eminem overheard Bass playing in studio next door. "Kill You" was written when Eminem heard the track playing in the background while talking to Dr. Dre on the phone and developed an interest in using it for a song. He then wrote the lyrics at home and met up with Dr. Dre and the two recorded the song together.
The song "Stan" was produced by The 45 King. Eminem's manager, Paul Rosenberg, sent Eminem a tape of the producer's beats, and the second track featured a sample of English singer-songwriter Dido's "Thank You". Upon hearing the song's lyrics, Eminem felt they described an obsessed fan, which became the inspiration for the song. The writing process for "Stan" differed greatly from Eminem's usual strategy, in which song concepts form during the writing: "'Stan' was one of the few songs that I actually sat down and had everything mapped out for. I knew what it was going to be about." Dido later heard "Stan" and enjoyed it, and observed, "I got this letter out of the blue one day. It said, 'We like your album, we've used this track. Hope you don't mind, and hope you like it.' When they sent ['Stan'] to me and I played it in my hotel room, I was like, 'Wow! This track's amazing.'"
The record label speculated that Eminem would be the first artist to sell one million copies in an album's first week of release. These expectations placed a large burden on Eminem, who recalled, "I was scared to death. I wanted to be successful, but before anything, I want respect." After the album was finished, the record label felt that there were no songs that had potential to be a lead single. Feeling pressured, Eminem returned to the studio and wrote "The Way I Am" as his way of saying, "Look, this is the best I can do. I can't give you another 'My Name Is.' I can't just sit in there and make that magic happen." However, after the song was added to the album, Eminem felt the urge to write another song, and gave a hook to Dr. Dre for him to create a beat, and went home to write new lyrics; the song eventually became "The Real Slim Shady". The song also discusses Eminem killing Dr. Dre. The producer reflected, "It was funny to me. As long as it's hot, let's roll with it ... in my opinion, the crazier it is the better. Let's have fun with it and excite people."
The Marshall Mathers LP contains more autobiographical themes in comparison to The Slim Shady LP. Much of the album is spent addressing his rise to fame and attacking those who criticized his previous album. Other themes include his relationship with his family, most notably his mother and Kim Mathers, his former wife. The Marshall Mathers LP was released in both clean and explicit versions. However, some lyrics of the album are censored even on its explicit version. Some songs are censored because of events surrounding the album's release, mostly the Columbine High School Massacre. Unlike Eminem's debut, The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP is more introspective in its lyrics and less of the Slim Shady persona. Its lyrical style has been described as horrorcore, with Stephen Thomas Erlewine writing that the album's lyrics "[blur] the distinction between reality and fiction, humor and horror, satire and documentary".
Most songs cover Eminem's childhood struggles and family issues, involving his mother ("Kill You"), the relationship struggles with his wife ("Kim"), his struggles with his superstardom and expectations ("Stan", "I'm Back", & "Marshall Mathers"), his return and effect on the music industry ("Remember Me?", "Bitch Please II"), his drug use ("Drug Ballad"), his effect on the American youth and society ("The Way I Am", "Who Knew"), and reactionary barbs to critical response of his vulgarity and dark themes ("Criminal"). Despite the large amount of controversy regarding the lyrics, the lyrics on the album were overwhelmingly well received among critics and the hip hop community, many praising Eminem's verbal energy and dense rhyme patterns.
The album contains various lyric samples and references. It features a number of lines mimicking songs from Eric B. & Rakim's album Paid in Full. The chorus to "The Way I Am" resembles lines from the song "As the Rhyme Goes On", and the first two lines from the third verse of "I'm Back" are based on lines from "My Melody". Two lines in "Marshall Mathers" parody the song "Summer Girls" by LFO. Bitch Please II is the only composition that Eminem and Snoop Dogg did together.
The record also contains lyrics that have been considered to be homophobic. The song "Criminal" features the line, "My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge/That'll stab you in the head whether you're a fag or les...Hate fags?/The answer's yes." The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) condemned his lyrics and criticized the album for "encourag[ing] violence against gay men and lesbians". However, writing for the LGBT interest magazine The Advocate, editor Dave White writes, "If he has gay-bashed you or me, then it logically follows that he has also raped his own mother, killed his wife, and murdered his producer, Dr. Dre. If he's to be taken literally, then so is Britney Spears' invitation to 'hit me baby, one more time'." Eminem noted that he began using the word "faggot" more frequently when "people got all up in arms about it...to piss them off worse", but added that "I think its hard for some people to understand that for me the word 'faggot' has nothing to do with sexual preference. I meant something more like assholes or dickheads."
In his book Edited Clean Version: Technology and the Culture of Control, author Raiford Guins writes that the clean version of The Marshall Mathers LP "resembles a cross between a cell phone chat with terrible reception...and a noted hip-hop lyricist suffering from an incurable case of hiccups." This version of the album often either omits words completely or obscures them with added sound effects. The clean version of the album did not censor all profanity. Words like "ass", "shit", "bitch", "piss", "bastard", "prick", and "goddamn" were uncensored, and the word "nigga" (which was only used by black guest artists) was accidentally left uncensored once. However, on the track "The Real Slim Shady", the words "bitch" and "shit" were censored out, as they used the clean version released for radio. References to violence and weapons were also significantly altered, and the song "Kill You" is written as "**** You" on the back cover of the album and "Drug Ballad" is written as just "Ballad". The song "Kim" is removed completely and replaced by the South Park-themed "The Kids". "The Kids" was also featured on limited edition copies of the uncensored album. The only content significantly edited were offensive and violent parts that were aimed at police, prostitutes, women, homosexuals, and schools. In response to the attack that had occurred recently at Columbine High School, names of guns and sounds of them firing were censored. Explicit drug content was also removed. On many copies, the intro "Public Service Announcement" and the skit "Ken Kaniff" are removed and moves "Kill You" up to track one. On other copies though, the track is still left fully intact. Some songs have words censored even on the explicit version; "I'm Back" censors "kids" and "Columbine", "Marshall Mathers" censors the entire line "It doesn't matter your attorney Fred Gibson's a faggot" and "Kim" censors the words "four" and "boy"
Much of the first half of the album was produced by Dr. Dre and Mel-Man, who employed their typical sparse, stripped-down beats, to put more focus on Eminem's vocals. Bass Brothers and Eminem produced most of the second half, which ranges from the laid-back guitars of "Marshall Mathers" to the atmosphere of "Amityville". The only outside producer on the album was The 45 King, who sampled a verse from Dido's song "Thank You" for "Stan", while adding a slow bass line.
"The Real Slim Shady" was the first single released from The Marshall Mathers LP. The song was a hit, becoming Eminem's first chart topper in some countries, and garnering much attention for insulting various celebrities. The chorus is: "I'm Slim Shady, yes I'm the real Shady/All you other Slim Shadys are just imitating/So won't the real Slim Shady please stand up, please stand up, please stand up?" which is Eminem's most noted lines and is used quite frequently (Although mostly altered) in various forms of media.
"The Way I Am" was released as the second single from The Marshall Mathers LP. "The Way I Am" features a much darker sound and much deeper subject matter than "The Real Slim Shady". It features the first beat Eminem produced on his own, featuring an ominous bassline, a piano loop, and chimes. In the song, Eminem lashes out at people he feels are putting too much pressure on him, including overzealous fans and record executives expecting him to top the success of his hit single "My Name Is". He also shares thoughts on the Columbine school shooting. Marilyn Manson is mentioned in the song in the lines: "When a dude's getting bullied and shoots up his school/And they blame it on Marilyn/And the heroin/Where were the parents at?/And look where it's at/Middle America, now it's a tragedy/Now it's so sad to see/An upper-class city/having this happening." The video features Marilyn Manson with the word "WAR" scrawled on his stomach. The two later toured together performing the song at their own concerts, and often making appearances on stage even when not singing the song. During the chorus, Eminem questions his identity in the face of massive amounts of attention from millions of strangers. While his previous album, The Slim Shady LP, was somewhat more cartoonish than this album, and he rapped therein as a distinct character who goes by Slim Shady, his critics believed that Eminem, Marshall Mathers, and Slim Shady were identical. Similar to other musicians and artists who lost their identity in some fictional construct (David Bowie, Alice Cooper), Eminem expresses his doubts about who he has become.
"Stan" was the third single released from The Marshall Mathers LP. It peaked at number one in the United Kingdom and Australia. The song is perhaps Eminem's most critically acclaimed song and has been called a 'cultural milestone'. "Stan" is a story of a fan who is obsessed with Eminem and writes to him but doesn't receive a reply. Stan drives his car off a bridge with his pregnant girlfriend in the trunk. The first three verses are delivered by Stan, the first two in letter form and the third being spoken as he is about to drive off a bridge and is recording a cassette with the intent (but, he realizes too late, not the means) to send it to Eminem. The song makes heavy use of sound effects, with rain, thunder and windscreen wipers heard in the background, as well as pencil scratchings during the first two verses, and then as Stan drives off the bridge, listeners hear tires screeching and a crashing sound, followed by a splash of water, in a style similar to the 1964 songs "Dead Man's Curve" and "Leader of the Pack". The fourth verse is Eminem responding to Stan, only realizing at the last second that he has heard about Stan's death on the news as he was writing to him. The song was produced by The 45 King and samples the first couple of lines of "Thank You" by Dido as the chorus. "Stan" was ranked number 3 on a list of the greatest rap songs in history by Q, and came in tenth in a similar survey conducted by Top40-Charts.com. Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time ranked it number 290. It was also ranked the 270th best song of all time in November 2008 by Acclaimedmusic.net.
Title and artwork
The album cover photo features Eminem sitting on the porch of the house he lived in during his teenage years. He reflected on the photo shoot by saying, "I had mixed feelings because I had a lot of good and bad memories in that house. But to go back to where I grew up and finally say, 'I've made it', is the greatest feeling in the world to me." Eminem considered naming the album Amsterdam after a trip to the city shortly after the release of The Slim Shady LP, in which he and his friends engaged in heavy drug use and where he wrote most of the album. The "free" use of drugs Eminem observed during his time in Amsterdam greatly influenced his desire to openly discuss drug use in his music and Dutch journalists inspired some of the content on the album.
During the first week of sales, the album sold 1.76 million copies, becoming the fastest-selling rap album in history, more than doubling the previous record held by Snoop Dogg's 1993 debut Doggystyle, and topping Britney Spears' record for highest one-week sales by any solo artist. The album sold 800,000 in its second week, 598,000 in its third week, and 519,000 in its fourth week for a four week total of 3.65 million, and became one of few albums to sell over half a million copies for four consecutive weeks. It finished out the year 2000 as the second highest selling album of the year with over 7.9 million sold. In 2010, the Nielsen Company reported that up until November 2009, the album had sold 10,216,000 units in the US, making it the fourth-best selling album of the decade. As of July 17, 2011, it was one of the best selling rap albums in the USA with 10,965,000 copies sold.
|Los Angeles Times|||
The Marshall Mathers LP received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 78, based on 21 reviews. Cynthia Fuchs of PopMatters called Eminem "clever" and stated, "That Eminem's imagination takes him to dark and disagreeable places is predictable; that he exhibits it so relentlessly and so profitably is something else." Chuck Eddy of The Village Voice gave it a rave review and noted "a self-awareness and emotional complexity [...] that Eminem previously seemed incapable of". In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau gave the album an A rating, indicating "a record that rarely flags for more than two or three tracks". Christgau called Eminem "exceptionally witty and musical, discernibly thoughtful and good-hearted, indubitably dangerous and full of shit", while declaring the album "a work of art whose immense entertainment value in no way compromises its intimations of a pathology that's both personal and political".
Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine called the album "fairly brilliant" and noted its production's liquid basslines, slight sound effects, and spacious soundscapes. NME described it as a "[g]ruelling assault course of lyrical genius". Entertainment Weekly dubbed it "indefensible and critic-proof, hypocritical and heartbreaking, unlistenable and undeniable" and "the first great pop record of the 21st century". Vibe stated, "Eminem has crafted the best album of the year so far with The Marshall Mathers LP and it comes dangerously close to being a classic." Touré of Rolling Stone gave it four out of five stars and commended Dr. Dre's production and Eminem's varied rapping style, while calling the album "a car-crash record: loud, wild, dangerous, out of control, grotesque, unsettling. It's also impossible to pull your ears away from". Melody Maker stated, "No one else puts such a rocket under rap's self-consciousness or makes it so shocking".
However, Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani found Eminem "repugnant" and panned his lyrics, stating "The only thing worse than Eminem's homophobia is the immaturity with which he displays it". Spin gave the album a mixed review and viewed his rhymes as "outstanding", but ultimately found its beats "mediocre" and called the album "musically, not all that noteworthy". Q stated, "True, even misdirected, Eminem's disaffection sucks you in and the wholesale nihilism can still provoke shivers. But it all used to be more fun." Although he found it too focused on Eminem's "whirlwind success" at the time, Neil Strauss of The New York Times commented that he "dissects the topic so furiously and honestly that the record stands as a fresh achievement", and concluded, "Eminem never makes it clear which character — Slim Shady or Marshall Mathers — is the mask and which is the real person, because there is no clear-cut answer, except that there's a little bit of each character in all of us." Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times praised Eminem's "vision" and how he incorporated "personal elements" to the album, but reserved his praise by stating, "This is a four-star album that is docked a half star because of the recurring homophobia—something that may be de rigueur in commercial rap, but which still is unacceptable."
In a retrospective review, Sputnikmusic's Nick Butler found the album culturally significant to American popular music and stated, "Even if you ignore the album's importance, it remains a truly special album, unique in rap's canon, owing its spirit to rock and its heritage to rap, in a way I've rarely heard". In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Rolling Stone journalist Cheo Hoker gave the album five out of five stars and wrote that it "delved much deeper into personal pain [than The Slim Shady LP], and the result was a minor masterpiece that merged iller-than-ill flows with a brilliant sense of the macabre."
In 2003, The Marshall Mathers LP was ranked number 302 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and in its book format, the album was moved up to number 298. In 2012, it was moved up to 244, ranking it above The Slim Shady LP as Eminem's highest-placed album on the list. Rolling Stone also placed the album at number seven on its list of the best albums of the 2000s. IGN placed the album at number 24 on their 2004 list of the greatest rap albums in history. In 2006, the album was chosen by Time as one of the 100 greatest albums of all time. In 2006, Q ranked the album number 85 on a list of the greatest albums of all time, the highest position held by any rap album on the list. It was named the fourth-greatest album of 2000's by Complex. Pitchfork Media ranked it at number 119 on their list of top 200 albums of the 2000s. The Marshall Mathers LP was the highest ranked rap album on the National Association of Recording Merchandisers & the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the 200 greatest albums of all time at number 28. It is one of the few albums ever to receive the top ranking of "XXL" from XXL, and Eminem's first album to be rated by the magazine.
On October 26, 2000, Eminem was to perform at a concert in Toronto's Skydome. However, Ontario Attorney General Jim Flaherty argued that Canada should stop Eminem at the border. "I personally don't want anyone coming to Canada who will come here and advocate violence against women", he said. Flaherty claims to have been "disgusted" when reading transcriptions of Eminem's song "Kill You", which includes lines like "Slut, you think I won't choke no whore/till the vocal cords don't work in her throat no more?" Eminem's fans argued that this was a matter of free speech and that he was unfairly singled out. Michael Bryant suggested that the government let Eminem perform and then prosecute him for violating Canada's hate crime laws, despite the fact that Canada's hate-crime legislation does not include violence against women. In a Globe and Mail editorial, author Robert Everett-Green wrote, "Being offensive is Eminem's job description." Eminem was granted entry into Canada.
A 2001 and 2004 study by Edward Armstrong found that of the 14 songs on The Marshall Mathers LP eleven contain violent and misogynistic lyrics and nine depict killing women through choking, stabbing, drowning, shooting, head and throat splitting. According to the study, Eminem scores 78% for violent misogyny while gangsta rap music in general reaches 22%. Armstrong argues that violent misogyny characterizes most of Eminem's music and that the rapper "authenticates his self-presentations by outdoing other gangsta rappers in terms of his violent misogyny."
Protests against the album's content reached a climax when it was nominated for four Grammy Awards in 2001 including Album of the Year, marking the first time a hardcore rap album was ever nominated in this category. At the ceremony, Eminem performed "Stan" in a duet with openly gay artist Elton John playing piano and singing the chorus, as a response to claims by GLAAD and others who claimed his lyrics were homophobic. GLAAD did not change its position, however, and spoke out against Elton John's decision. Despite significant protests and debate, The Marshall Mathers LP went on to win Best Rap Album.
|1.||"Public Service Announcement 2000" (skit)||0:25|
|2.||"Kill You"||Marshall Mathers, Andre Young, Melvin Bradford||Dr. Dre, Mel-Man||4:24|
|3.||"Stan" (featuring Dido)||Mathers, Dido Armstrong, Paul Herman||The 45 King, Eminem (co.)||6:44|
|5.||"Who Knew"||Mathers, Young, Bradford, Mike Elizondo||Dr. Dre, Mel-Man||3:47|
|6.||"Steve Berman" (skit)||0:53|
|7.||"The Way I Am"||Mathers||Eminem||4:50|
|8.||"The Real Slim Shady"||Mathers, Young, Coster, Elizondo||Dr. Dre, Mel-Man||4:44|
|9.||"Remember Me?" (featuring RBX & Sticky Fingaz)||Mathers, Young, Eric Collins, Kirk Jones||Dr. Dre, Mel-Man||3:38|
|10.||"I'm Back"||Mathers, Young, Bradford||Dr. Dre, Mel-Man||5:10|
|11.||"Marshall Mathers"||Mathers, Jeff Bass, Mark Bass||Bass Brothers, Eminem||5:20|
|12.||"Ken Kaniff" (skit)||1:01|
|13.||"Drug Ballad" (featuring Dina Rae)||Mathers, J. Bass, M. Bass||Bass Brothers, Eminem||5:00|
|14.||"Amityville" (featuring Bizarre)||Mathers, J. Bass, M. Bass, Rufus Johnson||Bass Brothers, Eminem||4:14|
|15.||"Bitch Please II" (featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit & Nate Dogg)||Mathers, Young, Bradford, Elizondo, Calvin Broadus, Alvin Joiner, Nathaniel Hale||Dr. Dre, Mel-Man||4:48|
|16.||"Kim" (Does not appear on clean version)||Mathers, J. Bass, M. Bass||Bass Brothers||6:17|
|17.||"Under the Influence" (featuring D12)||Mathers, Denaun Porter, Von Carlisle, Ondre Moore, Johnson, DeShaun Holton||Bass Brothers, Eminem||5:21|
|18.||"Criminal"||Mathers, J. Bass, M. Bass||Bass Brothers, Eminem||5:15|
|19.||"The Kids" (UK and deluxe bonus track, replaces 16th track Kim on clean version)||Mathers, J. Bass, M. Bass, Steve King||Bass Brothers, Eminem||5:17|
|Australian deluxe edition bonus disc|
|1.||"The Real Slim Shady" (instrumental)||Mathers, Young, Bradford||Dr. Dre, Mel-Man||4:46|
|2.||"The Way I Am" (instrumental)||Mathers||Eminem||4:52|
|3.||"Stan" (instrumental)||Mathers, Armstrong, Herman||The 45 King, Eminem (co)||6:45|
|4.||"The Kids"||Mathers, J. Bass, M. Bass, King||Bass Brothers, Eminem||5:06|
|5.||"The Way I Am" (Danny Lohner remix) (featuring Marilyn Manson)||Mathers||Danny Lohner||4:58|
|6.||"The Real Slim Shady" (music video)||Mathers, Young, Bradford||Dr. Dre, Mel-Man|
Charts and certifications
Chart precession and succession
Oops!... I Did It Again by Britney Spears
|Billboard 200 number-one album
June 10 – August 4, 2000
Now 4 by Various artists
7 by S Club 7
Alone with Everybody by Richard Ashcroft
|UK number one album
July 1, 2000 – July 7, 2000
July 15, 2000 – July 21, 2000
Alone with Everybody by Richard Ashcroft
Parachutes by Coldplay
Coyote Ugly (OST) by Various artists
|Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
March 11, 2001
No Angel by Dido
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|Awards and achievements|
The Slim Shady LP
|Grammy Award for Best Rap Album