Review Summary: Ironically, only 11 out of the 17 songs are singles.
For some reason, and I don't know why, I will always cite Eminem for his debut album, Infinite. That was what helped Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, that he had the potential. Infinite bombed, yes. But he strove forward. Now, Eminem has won thirteen Grammys, an Academy Award, and has made the fastest-selling solo album of all time (The Marshall Mathers LP).
The Singles is a 'Best of' compilation of the singles from The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, The Eminem Show, and 8 Mile. There's a couple other bonus tracks, but the main focus of this entire box set revolves around the singles from those tracks. This was released sometime in 2003 by Interscope Records and Shady Records. Curtain Call: The Hits you could consider a modern day The Singles. So, let's review this track-by-track.
This kicks off with 'My Name Is', from The Slim Shady LP. A lot of people think that this helped set Eminem's career, gave him immense global popularity. Well, My Name Is is just a little above decent. The chorus is quite catchy (Hi, My Name Is / What? / My Name Is / Who? / My Name Is / *chicka chicka* Slim Shady), and the first verse is quite funny. (My Brain's deadweight / Tryin' to get my head straight / But I can't figure out which Spice Girl I wanna impregnate) A further ways into the second verse is when it starts to get a little repetitive. Eventually it just comes off as randomly violent (Tell my dad I slit his throat in this dream that I had) and the beat starts to get shallow and sterile.
'Guilty Conscience' is a lot more original. Going about one of the classic situations where the angel and the devil as your conscience, there's three different situations. Dr. Dre stars as the angel, Slim Shady as the devil. There's a couple of good lines in the first verse, where somebody wants to rob a liquor store ("Look at the store clerk, she's older than GEORGE BURNS!) The second verse is a "take advantage of a young girl" situation, but it's the least favorite part of the song, with some slightly obvious lines ("While you're kissing her cheek, slip this in her drink." The third part's the best one out of three, with a "man comes home to find wife in bed with Jimmy" situation, and some really good one-liners, ("What? She tripped, fell, and landed on his DICK?" could be the best line on The Slim Shady LP), not to mention a fairly good ending.
Next up, The Marshall Mathers LP.
Kicks off with 'The Real Slim Shady'. This was a radio station and MTV hit back in its day, and is the lead single from The MM LP. Unlike My Name Is, where Slim Shady's personality starts to wear after a couple minutes, The Real Slim Shady finds ways to entertain you more. One line, "You think I give a damn about a Grammy? Half of you critics can't even stomach me / let alone stand me!", is particularly good.
Before the MM LP continues, we have 'Bad Influence' from the End of Days soundtrack. Going back to the violent side of Em's music persona, he raps about how parents think he's a BAD INFLUENCE on their children. A decent outing for Em, with some good rhymes. "People say that I'm a bad influence / I say the world's already ***ed, I'm just addin' to it."
"The Way I Am" is one of the truly excellent tracks on this album. From the MM LP, Eminem just lets his emotions go, about how popular he is. He's basically dissing his fans, critics, and everybody that hates him, apparently. For those looking for the funny, crazed Slim Shady persona, turn back, because you've got Marshall in his true, brittle form. Brilliant song.
"The Kids" is a lot less tolerable. Here's a historical note: the epic 'Kim' from the MM LP was taken out from the clean version because it was so violent. This was meant to replace it. Well, I really don't consider this a single, or a 'Best Of'. On the upside, though, it's got an interesting premise. That's about it.
"97 Bonnie and Clyde" is basically the sequel to "Kim" (which is strange, basically this is from The SS LP, whereas Kim was released 1-2 years later). It's basically an f-ed up version of "Just The Two Of Us" from The SS EP. It's one of the more weaker tracks on the album, and, at best, is bearable once.
The Eminem Show's first track kicks off here. As I recounted in my now-infamous review of The Eminem Show, I think it's Eminem's best to date. It's more emotional and captivating than the hilarious SS LP and the slightly more serious MM LP. "Without Me" is the track here. Being one of the silly tracks on the album, there's some really good beats here ("We're dis-cuss-ing how I'm dis-gust-ing"), and contains the famous line "Guess who's back? / Back again? / Shady's back / Tell a friend!". However, it isn't as subversive as some of the other tracks, but still bound to be a fan favorite.
From Eminem's first feature film, 8 Mile, comes "Rabbit Run", which contain some incredible rhymes and flow of the song. I think it's the ending song (don't criticize me, I haven't seen the film yet), and it shows how good Eminem's rhyming skills are (well, until he fell down the drain).
The next track from The Eminem Show comes "Cleanin' Out My Closet". This features Eminem going on a flashback through pain and suffering at the hands of his abusive mother. It seems pretty heartbreaking at first, but it eventually just comes off as mean-spirited.
"Stimulate" sings about his lyrical content and how it's SUPPOSED to cause controversy and STIMULATE the crowd. Eh, it's a fairly average track, that's all I'm going to say. The chorus gets annoying after a few times.
Now comes up the career-changing, one of the most singularly brilliant songs of all time, "Stan". This tells the story of a deranged, obsessive fan writing letters to his hero. It is all presented in writing form, and samples Dido's "Thank You". The writing and form in "Stan" is second to none. Stan is captivating, scary, thought-provoking, emotional, and it shows just how far fame can take you (when Stan kills himself and his pregnant girlfriend by driving off bridge rails because he feels Slim is ignoring him)
Then comes my personal favorite track, the subversive radio smash hit, "Lose Yourself", the lead single from 8 Mile, what helped earn him more popularity, what helped earn him the Academy Award. There's a moral to the song that goes throughout the entire film: Just believe in yourself, do anything you can set your mind to, and have no fears. The acoustic guitar rhythm, matched with Eminem's superior voice, is nothing short of remarkable.
Renegade was a Jay-Z song that actually featured Eminem, but it says that vice versa. It tells two different stories from two different perspectives: Jay-Z's is about his troubled childhood, and Eminem's about his perspective of the critical perception of his lyrics. Impressive outing, and (unlike in some Eminem tracks where the guest stars are terrible, take "Amityville" for example), Jay-Z is spot-on.
Business is another Dr. Dre and Eminem duet, playing Batman and Robin, trying to destroy the utter humiliation that is the Insane Clown Posse (more than likely because of their feud, anyone?). Pretty good, but like 'My Name Is', it kind of starts to wear off a little.
'Bump Heads' and Eminem's version of 'Wanksta' is included. They're not very good, that's ALL I'm going to say.
The Singles is a pretty good compilation (and thankfully, there's no Encore!), featuring some spot-on songs (Stan and Lose Yourself could be the two greatest rap songs of all time), and some not-so-good songs.