Eminem is a rapper who is always under fire for his raunchy, explicit lyrics and dark raps about death, homosexuality, and drugs. He was the center of alot of controversy over his debut album “The Slim Shady EP,” which was the first time a rapper (especially a white rapper) came out and said the things he did. Then, he multiplied all of that hate and rage by 10 when he came out with “The Marshall Mathers LP,” which featured excessive violence and homophobic lyrics.
Even though the obvious controversy surrounded his sophomore effort, it was still critically acclaimed and gained Slim a legion of loyal fans. I personally enjoyed the album very much once I realized that I shouldn’t take Eminem too seriously.
This cd, “The Eminem Show” is Eminems third album since he started working with Dr. Dre at Interscope. It was the top selling album of 02’ and was even ranked in Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time (being beat by his previous two albums however).
One of the biggest problems that I had with this cd (which is a subject that some fans are divided on) is Eminem’s producing. There really isn’t anything wrong with his producing, but it just doesn’t stand out. The big producers in the rap industry usually have a distinctive style. Dr. Dre has the loud, booming bass, synth and funk sounds, topped off with a whole gang of sound FX, Pharrelle has his patented underproducing, and Kanye West has his sample-heavy style. All of these producers have found success using various methods and signatures on each song, but Eminem’s only real signature is mediocrity.
In many ways, it seems that Eminem is purposely toning down his lyrics for this album, which may have been a good thing. The album starts off with a skit (if your a fan of Marshall, you’d have seen it coming). The second track is “White America,” which is a song all about...well, America. It’s got some good views on race in hip hop and some political issues. I really like this track, the beat is pretty simple, but keeps your head knodding throughout. It’s a pretty powerful track, and a good way to start off the CD, even if it doesn't stand out as much as “Kill You” (the first track off of The Marshall Mathers LP).
The next track could easily have been the first single off the album. “Business,” is produced by Dre, and it shows. Its pounding from start to finish, featuring an army of sound FX from sirens to chain saws. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s the song you’d get if “The Real Slim Shady” aged about 5 years. It’s more mature, but still light and playful in a way. Following that is “Cleaning’ Out my Closet.” I didn’t understand this song at first because the verses and the chorus seem to be contradicting themselves. It’s a pretty solid song, and showcases Marshall’s amazing microphone skills.
“Square Dance”...the track that I thought would be filler actually turned out to be a pretty good song. It’s just as political as “White America” and is a slight preview of the style that Eminem would use on his 4th album “Encore.” It’s (in my opinion) much better than “Mosh” which has a similar theme off of “Encore.” This song should also get some sort of award for the verse about joining that army. It’s laced with criticism of our draft system and just a lyrically amazing verse, and it’s surprising that he didn’t just start the song off with that verse.
The next track is another skit called “The Kiss”, just skip it. The 7th track is called “Soldier.” It’s classic Eminem. It’s got a decent beat, nothing special, but it’s got some really cool lyrics (but what else would you expect from Em). The next song is called “Say Goodbye Hollywood.” This song didn’t really jump out at me, it’s got a nice, bouncy beat, but it tells the same story from “The Kiss,” and I found the chorus to get a little annoying. The song does talk about Em’s father though, which is a welcome change from the constant yelling about his mom.
The following track is called “Drips,” which is a welcome change of topic. It’s all about STD’s, featuring Obie Trice. Obie’s verse is pretty solid, and I’m surprised that he hasn’t gotten more respect, because he’s a pretty good rapper. Eminem’s verse steals the show though, as it does in most of his collaborations.
“Without Me” follows. This is the small stretch in the CD where the tone is a little lighter. This song is pretty funny, and his mandatory joke track on each CD, just like “The Real Slim Shady” and “My Name Is.” It’s a good song, not my favorite, but it’ll lay eggs in your brain and have you singing it for weeks to come. Another skit follows that features the same character from Eminem’s previous albums, Paul Rosenberg.
Track 12 is called “Sing for the moment,” which features a sample from Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” It’s cool to see a rap/rock collaboration that's produced by a big label and isn’t just some bootleg by some DJ or kid who downloaded a rappers accapellas. The lyrics are about the influence that rappers have on kids. It’s nice to see a rapper talking about how guns aren’t almighty and not praising them in every verse. This track leads nicely into a few songs that are slower and show some of Em singing. “Superman” follows this song and is a mock R&B song that is one of my favorites off the album. It’s got a cool relaxed feel but the lyrics are anything but.
“Hailies Song” Is about his daughter, which is a constant subject in his rhymes, and features Eminem singing rather than rapping. The melody is catchy, but Eminem’s singing voice isn’t really that great when compared to real singers. Another skit comes after this song and leads into another one of Eminem’s signature songs, the D12 song. This song starts off with Eminem’s verse, which he spits double time over the beat. You can feel the beat and the words fuse throughout everyone’s verse. All the verses are pretty solid except for Bizarre. I really don’t like Bizarre’s rapping style, it’s slow and usually is just him saying things that are meant for shock value.
Right away you can tell the next track was produced by Dre. “Say What U Say” pounds your speakers like no other and creates a feeling that the rappers are these giants on TV calling out all the other rappers they hate. Dre’s verse is about a comment that Jermaine Dupri said in an interview, where he claimed to be better than Dre and Timberland. Em’s verse about how he hates Canibus, which isn’t anything new. The next song has a beat that seems like it could’ve gone on his first album. “Till I Collapse” seems like a mix between “Lose Yourself” and “Mosh,” the message is about trying until you collapse, and the beat is a guitar riff that's drowned out by what sounds like an entire stadium clapping. There’s a remix of this song out by DJ Vlad off of the “Rock Phenomenon” album in which he mixes this song with “Down with the sickness” by Disturbed. Needless to say I like that beat better, but the rapping is really great.
The last actual song on the album is called “My Dads gone Crazy.” It starts off with some audio of tv channels flipping and Hailey walking in on Em doing cocaine. This song seems like a mix of every other song on the album. It’s got a comic, carnival feel, as he talks about his mother, daughter, the government and censorship. It’s a great song and a good way to finish the album. After this track is a skit with Eminem doing his Ken Kaniff voice and singing “Without Me.” It’s funnier then most of the other skits, but I suggest just starting the album over, because It’s one of the best rap albums to come out since Nas’s Illmatic (excluding Em’s other albums).