Marshall Mathers LP Turns 15

I’m not okay.

I was probably 14 or 15 at the time. TRL was becoming a juggernaut and I was printing Em lyrics in typing class. I went out to The Wiz and bought it. The cashier pointed out the Parental Advisory sticker (she’d also sold me other tagged albums before) I said, “I know.” and handed over my money.

What would follow was a year of obsessive listening, understanding that not everyone is a happy camper and that there are people who happily talk shit and will hit back. I wasn’t a devout rap fan. I’m a New Yorker and at the time, we know our shit was hype. The rest of the country hadn’t even touched what New York or Los Angeles had with the genre and then here comes Marshall with Detroit on his shoulders, a blonde mop on top and the Mr. Just Don’t Give A Fuck attitude. I had the album on repeat. It’s a lyrical backflip, wordplay and exposing piece of rap that few other albums have ever managed to do. He was struggling with fame, he was struggling with his identity, he was in the beginning stages of addiction, struggling with being the only guy who was willing to be as wild as his lyrics. He was well aware of the target on his back and vented the frustrations into the album that would encapsulate a strange time in pop history. He wound up in verbal sparring (and physical altercations) with lesser rappers (Fucking Benzino) and wind up on top.

I wound up understanding that there was Marshall and there was Slim and there’s Shady. I understood that in order to survive we just make different masks, different personas to cope with the disaster of it all. MMLP came to mark a time in my life where I had no idea what I was doing (still done) felt like I had to have multiple personalities in order to make things happen for myself. It’s true. I created them and they are working, they battle each other a lot of the time but they’re also conflicting representations of who I can be. The irony is that that’s exactly what happened with MMLP; it captures moments from 2000, it captures moments from Em’s life, Marshall’s life, Slim and Shady’s life. It’s a triptych telling one version of events that modern albums don’t do anymore.

It’s a concept record.

The closest we’ve come to another series of albums on that level is Kid Cudi’s Man on The Moon but it’s taking three albums to do what Marshall did in one.

For all the pop and radio friendly tracks, Remember Me, Amittyville, Drug Ballad carried some of the heaviest pieces of lyricism that showed the raw lyrical power that Em posses. It’s why he’s the king of freestyles. It’s why, fifteen years later he can comfortably call himself a Rap God.

MMLP 2 pales in comparison, it’s admittedly a copy paste version of MMLP and stumbles where Recovery soared but he was right when he said “I can put out the same album twice and you retards will buy it.”

Sigh.

Fifteen years later. I love it.

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