Eminem - The Eminem Show
#317 on Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums Of All Time
It's pretty hard to overestimate just how big Eminem's first two albums were. If Eminem had only released The Slim Shady LP, he still would have been pretty massive, if only because Dr Dre had found his muse once again. Even so, after that, he went on to release The Marshall Mathers LP, a commercial monolith, and a modern masterpiece. One of the biggest and most acclaimed hip-hop albums of all time, it turned Eminem into the biggest and most visible star on the planet.
Where do you go from there? Well, there's this thing in music called 'the difficult third album'. Although Eminem technically debuted with Infinite, he only settled into the persona and sound with which we identify him now on The Slim Shady LP, and Infinite was little more than a glorified demo tape, made by an promising emcee waiting for a decent producer to discover him. So, effectively, The Eminem Show can be considered his third album. In most people's eyes, and certainly in those of the media, it was anyway. And the crux of the 'difficult third album' is media pressure. After two albums establishing your sound, where can you go from there?
Some artists choose to experiment with their sound. Radiohead's OK Computer, for instance, or The Clash's London Calling. Then again, some simply try and stick with the sound they already had. The Eminem Show definitely falls into the latter category. Aside from "Hailie's Song", where Eminem sings rather than raps, there's nothing here that Eminem hasn't done before. Except, that is, for producing large chunks of the album himself. An attempt to distance himself from Dre and achieve autonomy? Possibly. More likely, he was responding to jibes that a cracker like Eminem wouldn't be sh
it without Dre. The sad fact, though, is that Eminem isn't as good a producer as Dre, or Jeff Bass (another frequent collaborator, who contributes only one co-production here on "Cleaning Out My Closet" ). Here, especially, his productions feel like Master P offcuts.
But, aside from this, The Eminem Show is business as usual, right down to the letter. Just like "Kill You", "White America" ends with 'I'm just playing, you know I love you.' The Paul Rosenburg skit is repeated. The first single still sticks out like a sore, silly thumb. Relations with his mother weren't exactly improving on "Cleaning Out My Closet" (at this point, it was beginning to sound like Eminem was beating a dead horse). And D-12 once again show up towards the album's end for a song that would have been better placed on one of the group's albums ( "When The Music Stops" ).
The offshoot of that is that you cannot help but compare this to Eminem's other albums, which meant that this was revealed pretty quickly as far and away Eminem's worst effort so far. Because once you scratched beneath the surface, you realise that Eminem is seriously coasting here. Hell, he gets comprehensively out-rapped by Obie Trice on "Drips", and by Dr Dre on "Say What You Say". As a matter of fact, props to Dre's ghostwriter here, because when he disses Jermaine Dupri, he drops probably the best rap on the whole album.
He don't belong speaking mine OR Timbaland's name
And don't think I don't read
Your little interviews, and see what you're sayin
I'm a giant, and I ain't gotta move 'til I'm provoked
When I see you I'ma step on you and not even know it
Mini-Me with a bunch of little Mini-Yous
Running around your backyard swimming pools
Over 80 million records sold
And I ain't have to do it with ten or eleven year-olds....
In defence of The Eminem Show, Eminem has at least stepped up his targets - Jermaine Dupri and Canibus (attacked on "Square Dance" ) represent slightly tougher obstacles than Cristina Aguilera and N*Sync, anyway - and if a new rapper released this album, it'd be seen as an average, if promising debut. But by Eminem's standards, this is mediocre at best - packed with filler, executed with a lack of care and effort, and seriously missing the wit and intelligence that made The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP so great. The highlights of the record are still as good as you'd expect from Eminem, but for every "Sing For The Moment", there's 2 or 3 of "'Till I Collapse" and "Soldier".
And the worst thing? He got even worse from here.
Within The Genre - 3.5/5
Outside The Genre - 2/5
Recommended Downloads -
Such a great opener. I remember hearing this for the first time, and being convinced that this album would be even than The Marshall Mathers LP. If the year before the release of The Eminem Show had been marked by the media waging war on Eminem, this is Eminem fighting back, dissecting his image and impact to find out why he's become such a phenomenon. It's typical Eminem territory, but it still sounded fresh here. If Mosh had sounded anything like this, Encore wouldn't have been such an embarrassment.
My Dad's Gone Crazy
Ah, how we long for the days when Eminem's sense of humour hadn't gone totally AWOL (my life will be officially 500% better if I never hear "A
ss Like That" again). Hailie sings the chorus - gimmicky? Sure, but it just about works. Dr. Dre's production throws everything but the kitchen sink at the song, but in a surprisingly subtle way - I didn't even notice the theremin until reviewing this just now.
Sing For The Moment
Apparently sampling Aerosmith's 'Dream On' heavily (it actually features Joe Perry himself), this remains Eminem's greatest self-produced moment. This marks the first and only point on The Eminem Show where Marshall has anything unique to say - it is to The Eminem Show as "Like Toy Soldiers" is to Encore. Eminem here simultaneously pays tribute to the rap artists that helped him through his childhood, and acknowledges the fans that hold him in the same regard.
Eminem - The Slim Shady LP
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