Review Summary: A complete package
Eminem had already pretty much conquered the hip hop world by the time of his fourth album, The Eminem Show. His debut, Infinite, had displayed a large amount of lyrical talent and a flow that was very tight, despite how obviously mediocre that album was. Following this came The Slim Shady LP which displayed a massive amount of improvement and a dark sense of humor nearly unrivaled anywhere in music, but it was his third album, The Marshall Mathers LP, that really displayed his talent, going on to sell over 19 million units. What could really be done now to improve upon the legacy that Eminem had already created? The answers would be revealed on The Eminem Show.
This album showcased as similar lyrical style to his previous album, but in place of the harrowing stories found throughout that album, there are much more reflective stories dealing with his race in the rap world among other topics. In place of the dark, haunting song style from the previous album found on such songs as Stan and The Way I Am, there are much more straightforward music, that allows Eminem a lot more time to focus on the actual lyrical content, which at times felt a little weak on the past album. This time around, however, we have Eminem on the top of his game lyrically, as showcased immediately on White America.
White America is one of the best songs Eminem has ever recorded, feeling exceedingly epic for a hip hop song, whilst still being straight to the point. The beat to this is one of the best on the album, giving it a really intense feel, although not quite to the over-the-top degree of Kim from the past album, it is suitably harsh sounding and aggressive, whilst Eminem delivers his lyrics with a real fire over the top of it. This song shows how good the lyrics on this album get, being extremely well written. They have a very sarcastic tone to them, being aimed at the community that assumes that a rapper can only be black, and pack a real punch, with a lot of fury backing them. This is Eminem at his most personal, getting back at people who put him down for his ethnicity, and this is among the greatest songs in his discography.
Speaking of personal songs, Soldier is another exceedingly powerful, angry one, dealing with an assault and conviction that Eminem had in his earlier life, almost bringing a real thug side of Eminem out. Some of the lyrics found on this song are fantastically written, including lines such as "Never was a thug, just infatuated with guns, never was a gangster 'til i graduated to one". The rhyme scheme on this album can at times be very forced, but it always works very well within the context of the album, and it all goes well with Eminem's flows. This is another thing that has drastically improved for this album, no longer being the really restrained style found on the previous album, being the only thing to really take away from songs like The Way I Am. On here, however, it is completely unrestrained, being almost untouchable, particularly on songs like Soldier. The only song in which Eminem's flow is even remotely rusty in Square Dance, which even takes a cheap shot at fellow rapper Canibus.
The beats for this album are, for the most part, a lot more simplified from last time around, with considerably less use of samples and a lot more time spent on actually crafting the lyrics. However, they always work, from the previously mentioned intensity of White America to the thundering bass work found on Soldier, and the great beat found on Cleaning Out My Closet. They are perfect for the songs they were found on, and were they more complex, the beats may well have detracted from the album instead of adding to it, with the clear focus of this release being the much more improved lyrical content from Eminem.
Superman is another great song found on this album, with some great lyrics, a tight flow, and a nice guest appearance from Dina Rae. This is a cracking song that really does deserve a listen, despite being no less curse happy than previous Eminem releases. Till I Collapse, Business and Sing For The Moment are the other highlights of this album, really giving the album a diverse feel, and always showcasing the absolute best of Eminem and the various guest stars on this release which include, but are not limited to D12, Dr Dre and Dina Rae. The only real weak point of the album is Square Dance, in which Eminem's sarcastic tones and aggressive lyrics just do not match up for some reason that i could never put my finger on. The cheap shot aimed at Canibus really did feel a little unnecessary for this song, given the serious content of the rest of the album, and detracts a lot from the song overall.
Other than Square Dance, this album truly is flawless, containing some of the most jaw dropping lyrical accomplishments in the entirety of hip hop. This remains an absolute benchmark of lyricism, coupled with some incredibly tight beats and, for the first time, Eminem flowing using all of his ability. This was where Eminem finally hit his peak, no matter what the past two albums had already done for him, and he would never match this level of intensity again. 4.5/5