Hey man? What is that guy doing? Is he choking that lady to death? What the f**k? In a music video? Yep, those words right there were the first thoughts that came to mind when I first saw Eminem, on that weird black and white video for Just Don't Give a F**k. In the first thirty seconds, Eminem chokes his grandmother to death. It is then when I first realized that this guy was no pansy Vanilla Ice or Jon Davis, this guy was for real. The song accompanying the video only proved it. This guys flow was just ridiculous. His rhymes were comically gory, and miles removed from the wimpy a*s s**t that Vanilla Ice was putting out. While The Marshall Mathers LP dealt with the complications of fame, this album dealt with being poor white trash. It was just so real from someone who had experienced the depths of poverty. Of course other rappers do this, but Eminem does it the best.
The first song most people noticed from the album was My Name Is. It was the first single, and earned a Grammy for best rap solo act in 1999. Not the best song on the album, but still very, very good. This song jokes comically about suicide, (a common theme in this album) dissing innocent fans, murderous aliens, and murder fantasies about his dad. Jumps around in topics a lot, and it seems like Eminem is trying to best himself in funniest stunts pulled, from "stapling his teachers nuts to a stack of paper" to ejaculating on a bartender. This song had me in fits when I first heard it. Nothing like this had ever been heard before. What always amazes me about this song is how simple the beat is. A bass and drum loop with a guitar thrown in during the hook. This beat might be Dr. Dre's most ingenious, good enough to draw in fans, but not too overpowering so the focus stays on Eminem's rhymes. A very good song, probably the best of the singles.
Guilty Conscience was the second single, and it was a battle rap between Eminem and Dr. Dre. Again, a very simplistic beat. It is almost unnoticeable. While My Name Is left some lingering questions about Eminem's flow, this song answered them all while Eminem rapped circles around accomplished rapper Dr. Dre. One of his great lines is "Go in and gaffle the money and run to one of your aunt's cribs, and borrow a damn dress, and one of her blonde wigs. Tell her you need a place to stay, you'll be safe for days if you shave your legs with Renee's razor blade." What an original rhyme. Eminem's flow is seamless here, but somewhere the beat has to count for something, and it accounts for almost nothing on this song. Lyrically, it edges out My Name Is, but the terrible beat drops it down.
Role Model is the almost unnoticeable third single, it didn't make very big of a splash at all. Not to say it's terrible... just saying it isn't single material. Better beat here, with drumming, a guitar, and a little bass. This song does two things: disses everybody in sight, and relishes in Eminem's ability to influence young people. Some of his dis targets: Canibus, his mom, Hilary and Bill Clinton, and Vanilla Ice. More than that, he delivers disses to nobody in particular, stating "my rap styles warped, I'm running out the morgue with your dead grandmother's corpse to throw it on your porch." But all of that good stuff is buried under heaps of pointless rhymes, such as "I get a clean shave, bathe, go to a rave, die from an overdose and dig myself up out of my grave." Uh.... cool. The chorus isn't that good either, featuring a voice on a megaphone. One of the worse songs on this album, why was it a single?
Don't worry, the singles don't make this album like they did on Marshall Mather's LP. Just Don't Give a F**k was seen by such a small audience that I'm not going to count it as a single. It came out before My Name Is, before he had any publicity at all built up. Just Don't Give a F**k is a song that is about no topic in particular, besides the fact that Eminem doesn't care about anything you do or say to him. Very cool song, better than the three singles listed above. There is a nod to D12 in the beginning, and this song came out 3 years before the group officially formed. In this song, he makes a lot of metaphors involving other people, such as "I'm brain dead like Jim Brady," "You little like that Kim lady" and the very cool "Cursing out you players worse than Marty Schottenheimer." This is a tactic that was very rarely used by Eminem in other songs, and it is fun to hear. There are other metaphors involving 2pac and Ron Goldman. Right off the bat, he tries to distance himself from Vanilla Ice, dissing him in this song. He seems to just try to piss people off here (which I love) stating for no reason that he supports abortion. This song, although on the humorous side, also has some serious aspects. I can't tell what they are for sure, that is for the listener to figure out. That is the beauty of Eminem, he forces the listener to decide whether he's serous or not.
Probably the time where he best blends humor and seriousness is on the fourth track, Brain Damage. The first time you hear this, you think it's a skit, because it opens with a skit of a doctor performing surgery. Once it gets to the main song, it becomes clear that this is a story of one day in Eminem's (presumably) middle school experience. While obviously being ridiculously overblown and comic about bullying, it also has shades of truth to just how badly Eminem got pounded in school. The beat fits the song perfectly, something most of the beats on this song do. One particularly hilarious rhyme in my opinion is "One day he came in the bathroom while I was pissin, and had me in the position to beat me into submission." This song also mentions one of his childhood tormenters, Deangelo Bailey, by name which later prompted a defamation lawsuit. You can hear the joy in Eminem's voice as he gets his pretend revenge on Deangelo in this song. There is also a hilarious part about his mom accidentally beating his brains out of his head. But you can tell that this is also partly true, that his mom and teachers never stepped in to prevent the bullying. A lyrical masterpiece by Eminem, probably one of the better songs on the album.
But by far and away the best is Rock Bottom. This song has a very slow and reflective beats, with someone going "oo-o, oo-o" in the background. This song is about Eminem being broke, and everything he experienced while being on the "rock bottom" of society. It is rumored that he wrote this song on the night he attempted suicide. He is looking up with hate and rage at the rich people in the society, and venting his rage on the people who double-crossed him to get rich. The chorus is just so incredibly heart-wrenching. "When this life makes you mad enough to kill, that's rock bottom. When you want something bad enough you'll steal, that's rock bottom. When you feel you have had it up to here cause you mad enough to scream but you sad enough to tear." While it may sound corny here, it definitely does not in the song. Eminem reflects on his lifetime of being broke, and eventually comes to the conclusion that it doesn't matter who he hurts or destroys to become rich and famous, because he is not willing to risk going back to the rock bottom.
There are some flaws in this album though. My Fault is just weird and not Eminem's style at all. Cum on Everybody might be his worst song of all time. But this album has almost no holes. It's just that here, the great songs aren't quite as good as the great ones on Marshall Mathers LP, and the average songs are not nearly as good as the average ones on MMLP. But itís strengths are that it shows that Eminem isnít afraid to talk about anything or make fun of anything, from gays to suicide to rape to drug abuse. For that, it deserves a 4.5/5. Eminem's second best album, and still a must-own for any hip-hop fans.
1. Rock Bottom
2. Just Don't Give a F**k
3. My Name Is
1. Cum on Everybody
2. My Fault
3. I'm Shady
Almost a classic.