Eminem wouldn’t be Eminem—or Slim Shady, or Marshall Mathers—if he didn’t allot some of his whizbang rhymes to homophobic slurs and misogynistic fantasies. “Rap God,” a single from his eighth album in which he belittles unnamed rivals as “fags” and “gay,” kicked up the latest in a long line of debates about his compulsion to attack women and gay men.
But on The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (which is streaming now on iTunes, ahead of its Nov. 5 sale date), the 41-year-old works his me-or-my-demons shell game more furiously than ever. On the seven-minute-plus opener “Bad Guy,” he imagines his own commeuppance, as the brother of his old stalker character “Stan” kidnaps Em to avenge his late sibling. Facing death, Marshall hears his “lack of a conscience”: “I’m the bullies you hate, that you became/With every faggot you slaughtered/Coming back on ya, every woman you insult/That, with the double standard you had when it comes to your daughters.”