Review Summary: Everything that makes Em one of the greats is gracefully rolled into this colossal masterpiece, more than deserving of a standing ovation when the curtains close.
After the release of his second album, The Marshall Mathers LP (which became the fastest selling solo record of all time), Eminem was probably wondering where he could go next, what he could do to top his previous masterpiece. What would be entailed in blowing the masses' minds yet again? He'd already shown us his delightfully twisted sense of humor on The Slim Shady LP, and bore his soul with unsettling aggression and intensity on The Marshall Mathers LP, both with nearly unmatched writing and rhyming talent. How 'bout rolling all those elements into one epic creation, with even better rhyming than before? It sounds like that's the direction our dear Slim Shady went in, and after the curtains of his creative process went down, the curtains for The Eminem Show rose. And what a show it is.
After the curtains rise, the show begins with "White America," an absolutely flawless representation of not only Eminem's position in the rap world (you know, being white and all), but where he stands in American society. And not only does he spit fire emotionally on the track, the lyrics are amazing, as well; "All I hear is/Lyrics, lyrics, constant controversy, sponsors working 'round the clock to try to stop my concerts early/Surely hip-hop was never a problem in Harlem, only in Boston/After it bothered the fathers of daughters starting to blossom." And that's only one little tidbit of the genius.
The next track is "Business," a very fun little tune in which Eminem treats talent in rapping as a 'business,' and boasts how he's one of the best in it. It's the song that contains the immortal line; "Can't leave rap alone, the game needs me!" Especially at the time this album came out, but even now, that line still rings true. After "Business" follows "Cleanin' Out My Closet," possibly Eminem's best song about his mother and his life growing up. The beat is laced with a simple, but good, palm-muted guitar lick, and along with the chilling chorus, this gives the song a very eerie, intense feel. Then comes "Square Dance," a song with lyrics I don't have a very solid interpretation of, but I do know very well that the song sports one of the few rap beats I would describe as "heavy."
After "Square Dance" is a skit that recreates a scene that allegedly happened (called "The Kiss"), in which Eminem sees his infamous girlfriend, Kim, kissing a bouncer in front of a club. In the skit, Em pulls out a gun...and then the end of the skit flows perfectly right into the hook for the next song, "Soldier." But those two tracks are definitely not the only examples of perfect transitions on the album. The whole album flows like a river, with no filler (well, maybe "Say What You Say," but on that song you can still appreciate the rhymes), and all talent and emotion.
Other aspects of this album that make it the monumental achievement it is are "Sing For The Moment," in which Eminem reniforces that he's in the music industry for the music, not the money, and how he wants to just sing, or live, for this moment, because he realizes how lucky he is and how it all can be taken away at any time. "Hailie's Song," which is the first and only (correct me if I'm wrong on the 'only' part) song in which Em sings entire verses and choruses, but of course, raps the the third verse. This one is a real tearjerker. "'Till I Collapse," which is an absolutely relentless track about how Eminem is gonna keep rapping, until he collapses. Much like "Lose Yourself," after listening to this song, you'll feel like you can break through a brick wall. And "My Dad's Gone Crazy," which is a very unique and quite underrated Eminem song. Rather than talking about how parents and adults see him, Eminem talks about how the kids view him in this track.
It's all here. Everything Eminem fans have come to love about him, it's all here. The humor ("Drips," "Without Me," "Business," "My Dad's Gone Crazy"), the intense soul-bearing and storytelling ("Cleanin' Out My Closet," "Hailie's Song"), the retaliation against angry parents and the rapping about rapping ("White America," "Sayin' Goodbye To Hollywood," "Sing For The Moment," "When The Music Stops," "'Till I Collapse"), and the, like I said earlier, nearly unmatched writing and rhyming talent. Everything that makes Em one of the greats is gracefully rolled into this colossal masterpiece, more than deserving of a standing ovation when the curtains close.