October 12, 2008

Eminem - The Eminem Show (May 28, 2002, technically)



Eminem's third album, The Eminem Show, is notable for the fact that it was the first rap album (to my knowledge) to have its release date pushed up to a day not traditionally known for new releases (Sunday) due to rampant bootlegging. It was technically available for sale on May 26, 2002, and I ran out to get my copy from a Target around my way: however, not every retail outlet got the memo from Interscope Records, so some states put The Eminem Show on the shelves on Tuesday, May 28. Regardless, it sold over three hundred thousand copies on a day most people tend to reserve for church services, and over one million copies in its first full week on the market. It would eventually sell over nine million copies in the United States alone.

Damn!

The Eminem Show is often referred to as the most serious album in the Marshall Mathers catalog, but also his angriest (no easy feat, considering the rampant homophobia that was prevalent on The Marshall Mathers LP: one was left with the impression that Eminem was more mad at himself than anything). The idea of Eminem exorcising his demons on wax should be nothing new at this point, but this time around Marshall had new problems, specifically regarding his ex-wife and his attacking of a bouncer outside of a club, one who was allegedly seen kissing up on Kim. He also decided to profess his love for his daughter multiple times, opted to become an accomplice to Dr. Dre for a track that's essentially all about how much producer (and current Mr. Janet Jackson) Jermaine Dupri lacks height-wise, and, on a more serious note, he tackled the challenge of producing almost the entire album on his own (Dr. Dre only produced three songs out of twenty). As a result, The Eminem Show has a surprisingly consistent sound, although that hardly means anything if you're familiar at all with Marshall's work.

Moving on.

1. CURTAINS UP (SKIT)
So Marshall finally got rid of those pesky "Public Service Announcement" introductions, eh? No wonder The Eminem Show is usually referred to as the most serious in Eminem's catalog.

2. WHITE AMERICA
Well, you can't say that Marshall didn't have much to say on his third major label album. I was never a fan of the hook, but everything that he says makes sense, especially when he starts dissecting his record sales. For a brief moment, he puts his talents aside (he did still have some talent at this point) and focuses on the obvious answer.

3. BUSINESS
Corny as fuck. Get past the foolish concept of the track, and ignore the hook, and you'll be rewarded with an okay song that has better lyricism than it deserves.

4. CLEANING OUT MY CLOSET
I first heard this song during the theatrical trailer for 8 Mile, which was strange, since the song itself doesn't appear in the movie. Anyway, I wasn't very impressed then (I was actually annoyed with the fact that the chorus was so easy to mock in such an obvious manner, it seemed as if Marshall wasn't even trying). Today, I'm still not happy with it, as I feel it sounds incomplete. Not as if I believe more rappers should be added on, far from it, but musically, there's something...missing.

5. SQUARE DANCE
There aren't many rappers out there that would go out of their way to trash both Canibus and George W. Bush in the same song, but here you go. I've always liked the beat, and while the Canibus reference is very stupid, all of the political shit in here works well.

6. THE KISS (SKIT)
You have to give Marshall credit for not shying away from his personal issues on his solo albums. The D12 discs are, obviously, no place for your fucking feelings.

7. SOLDIER
I never cared for this song.

8. SAY GOODBYE HOLLYWOOD
Meh.

9. DRIPS (FEAT OBIE TRICE)
The concept of this track is flat-out awful, but the execution, minus the misogyny, is impressive: Obie Trice, receiving the Shady Records consolation prize of a cameo on The Eminem Show after his first mainstream single, "No Gimmicks", was abandoned by the label (remnants of that particular cut appear as the intro to the next song), spits his half of the tale with a level of talent that you just don't see when you're looking at, say, D12. Marshall takes his time with his story, so much so that you actually don't see the twist coming: thanks to Eminem's misdirection, you have to listen to this shit twice to realize that they're both spitting about the same woman. The hook is godawful, though.

10. WITHOUT ME
The mandatory "corny first single" that Aftermath/Interscope requires from Eminem before they grant him a budget. I had apparently blocked this song from my mind, because it sounded completely different from what I thought I remembered. Not that it sounded good, mind you: as mentioned a couple of lines before, this song is pretty corny. But it does sound better than "The Real Slim Shady", although he still takes aim at sitting ducks like Moby, of all people.

11. PAUL ROSENBERG (SKIT)
These skits are beyond old at this point.

12. SING FOR THE MOMENT
I believe this was released as a single: I seem to recall there being a video for it, but I never heard this song on the radio. Lyrically, this song is akin to Em's delivery on the whole of The Marshall Mathers LP, but I couldn't connect with this musically. If I wanted to hear Aerosmith's "Dream On", I'd get a fucking Aerosmith album, or I'd watch television and wait for a car commercial, thank you very much.

13. SUPERMAN (FEAT DINA RAE)
Wow, this song is corny as shit, and it's much longer than it needs to be, but I have to be honest: when The Eminem Show first dropped, I found this track to be so bad that it was good. And in hearing this today, I'm kind of embarrassed. "Bitch, if you died, I wouldn't buy you life"? What the fuck was I thinking? I also seem to recall there being a video for this trifle, although it wasn't ever played on television.

14. HAILIE'S SONG
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this was actually a good song. I hate hearing Eminem sing, and I'm confused as to why the people that surround him every day allow him to continue doing so, but you can actually hear the emotion in his voice as he sings about his daughter, and that somehow elevates this song well above "cheesy". However, the track is a bit too long, and Eminem's comment about being thankful that Hailie's mom (that would be Kim, for those keeping score) "didn't abort her" is entirely inappropriate; even though the abortion reference is censored on the album, there was no reason to go there.

15. STEVE BERMAN (SKIT)
Please refer to the "Paul Rosenberg" skit above for commentary.

16. WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS (FEAT D12)
In case you had forgotten, Eminem has a band of weed carriers that pretend to have their own careers, and, per contractual obligation, here they are! Oh, I'm sorry, were you expecting some words regarding the actual song? I think that the first sentence says it all, my friends.

17. SAY WHAT YOU SAY (FEAT DR. DRE)
While it is good to hear Em and Dre rhyme on the same track again, the beat is underwhelming, and the entire idea of Dr. Dre taking potshots at Jermaine Dupri is kind of lame when compared to some of his older beefs. Eminem's hook also falls into the "annoying as fuck" category. The presence of Timbaland at the very end of the track is amusing, though.

18. TILL I COLLAPSE
I've always liked this song, although Nate Dogg sounds a bit off to me. The most interesting part of this song to bloggers and the readers of said bloggers, though, lies in the second verse, where Marshall lists all of his favorite rappers. Folks were actually shocked to hear Eminem praise Andre 3000 from Outkast back in 2002. I have to ask: why was that surprising? Have you heard the man's work?

19. MY DAD'S GONE CRAZY (FEAT HAILIE JADE)
This piffle was really just an excuse to allow Eminem's daughter to make an appearance on The Eminem Show. I can't believe that Marshall wasted a Dre beat on this: there are starving children in Africa that would fucking kill for a Dr. Dre prescription. Or, barring that, food.

20. CURTAINS CLOSE (SKIT)
You know that Aristotle has to be pissed that Em keeps reviving that dumbass Ken Kaniff character from The Slim Shady LP. Here, he contributes the album's outro.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The Eminem Show is Eminem's most politically charged album, as if that actually means anything, since only a handful of tracks actually address the issues of the time. Rather, Marshall uses his third major label album to try and cope with the kind of problems that only successful rap artists face on a regular basis, which brings the audience's level of empathy down to, let's just say, zero. (Only his problems with his ex-wife and his love of his daughter bring him back down to Earth.) A lot of the tracks sound only "okay", which, for an Eminem album, is a new low, although the few tracks that sound great are truly among his best work. All in all, The Eminem Show was a disappointment, but at least a few of Em's ideas were interesting.

BUY OR BURN? Burn it. Eminem's fans already own this one anyway, but for everyone else that walked on by, here's permission to continue doing just that. There's nothing groundbreaking here for you.

BEST TRACKS: "Square Dance"; "Till I Collapse"; "Hailie's Song"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Eminem's other albums can be read about once you click here.

17 comments:

  1. Wow. I disagree with nearly everything you've said here. I thought this was a classic album (4-4.5).

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  2. I knew from the outset you wouldn't enjoy "Sing For The Moment", but it's nice to see you herald the lyricism because that track under a different instrumental would have been something special. And I was actually surprised that you enjoyed "Drips"... really? It's not that bad of a song, but I have to believe that it's worse than "White America" or "Superman". Overall a good review, nothing all that special about this album, kind of interesting to see how it will further stand the course of time.

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  3. You need to shove your pc up your ass and stop your attempts at reviewing. Em's last good album, it deserves the buy especially when you recommend bullshit like Kingdom Come.

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  4. Tha Alkaholiks said it best, Bullshit.

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  5. There was a Superman video with Gina Lynn around, at some point.
    And despite the curvy pornstar, the video was corny as fuck whit Mr. Mathers showing off his abdomen...

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  6. for some reason squaredance put me in mind of mixalot's "squaredance rap", special ed's "hoe down" and chubb's "hip hop rodeo" which coincidentally has a voice sample saying "round the outside" which em chant's on the intro to "without me"...
    pretty decent album actually, although nowadays i find myself skippin to goodbye hollywood, sing and hailie's song...em's crooning on Hailie's songs is a little bit more bearable than some of dennis coles attemts

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  7. Not feeling the review, sorry.
    I love Soldier, and Drips is by far the worst song on the whole cd, it's absolutely terrible.
    This is Marshall's best album, the lyricism in numerous tracks is incredible.

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  8. we all know what would happen if eminem was black, he'd be a depressed alcoholic who keeps promising an album with premier but instead releases mixtapes call the bar exams, also, i dont see why people would be so suprised to hear andre, his work on aquemini was a lyrical masterpiece, i was suprised by kurupt, he was amazing on the dogg food albums and guest spots on the previous drow albums, but everything since has been butt

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  9. Mr. AquariusOctober 13, 2008

    I personally like this album a little more than what you say, but I do agree some songs on here sound like shit.

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  10. Hailies Song??! What the fuck!? probably the song that got the quickest Skip Reaction ever.

    You are retaurded for even putting this on your "Best Tracks" list.

    "Business" is a pokey track, I can't imagine these lyrics over a serious beat... now I also can't imagine this was a Dre beat. probably just mixed by Dre, although I know those instruments used plus chorus are pure dre-esque.

    "Cleaning my Closet" is musically missing a better snare.. that retarded click is very misused. And that fuckin guitar is absolutely the most kisch thing ever. The song is always bordering on too sappy.... I hate this song BECAUSE I like it.

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  11. I used to regard the "Eminem Show" as the weakest component of Eminem's catalogue, but then I heard "Encore." Anyways, I have revisited this album, and though I agree for the most part on your review of this album, I think that the songs "Sing for the Moment" and "Till the Music Stops" deserve more credit than you give them. Granted, they are not GREAT songs, but they are pretty good, particularly the third verse of "Sing for the Moment" and Proof's verse in "When the Music Stops." All in all, however, good review. I am an Eminem fan, so I would buy this album just because of that bias, but like you, I cannot recommend that anyone necessarily buy this album unless they are big Eminem fans. This album is average at best.

    Congratulations on five readers now.

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  12. AnonymousMay 27, 2009

    nigga this is far from mediocre,it aint shady's best album but neither is horrible, this akbum is definitely better than relapse and encore, this album aint shit dude

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  13. Thank the heavens you didn't trash 'Till I Collapse'. I'd probably have removed this site from my Bookmarks tab if you did.
    Top 10 Em' song, without a doubt.

    I remember my mother confiscated my copy after she walked in on me listening to Obie's verse on 'Drips'. Couldn't blame her; I was barely a teen.

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  14. Yea it's not a great album from Em like his first two lp's but this is prolly his last best "effort." His most "commercial" when u count the number appearances he was on late 2002/2003 surrounding the hype around his movie/soundtrack to 8 mile plus the hype surrounding well a kid from jamaica queens you get a definite plus for the aftermath camp. But im sorry STANS but Em is far from GREAT. Although this deserves a buy being that it's more serious than his previous albums.. the beats are kinda weak tho, maybe i never been too fond of his production.. by the way i think the list he presented in "Till i collapse" is pretty legit when u consider kurupt, andre, nas, biggie all creatively genius lyricists... their some of my favorites.. but who is Reggie?? Reggie Noble aka Redman??

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  15. AnonymousMay 19, 2011

    Maximus - I enjoyed this review and found myself understanding the criticisms you gave it, but I have to respectfully disagree overall. I consider this Em's best work. This album is his most complete; I agree with you in your assessment of The Marshall Mathers LP (namely, that it is inconsistent) but this album is extremely cohesive and entertaining. Em never seems to run out of energy and the album never refrains from its dark territory; from the beginning song's go for the jugular delivery to the dark beat of Say What you Say and the grimy Superman and Without Me, this album is highly lyrical and cohesive. Relapse, in my opinion, was not so strong lyrically and message-wise, but was cohesive. I urge you to look at this album as a whole, and see that Em has put out a classic here.

    Blake

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  16. Yes Reggie,Redman's style of humour and his originality aswell as his lyricism played a huge part in eminem.

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  17. One of the best albums from Shady. Thanks man!

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