The Eminem Show

Eminem

Aftermath Records, 2002

http://www.eminem.com

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/10/2003

I have a couple of incredibly self-absorbed friends. They're of the artistic type. The majority of the conversation revolves around either themselves or their work. Everyone has friends like that. All they want to talk about are their families, their jobs, themselves. As a self-absorbed person, this is incredibly annoying. But some self-absorbed friends can actually back up their talk: their conversations may revolve around completely around themselves, but they make the story and delivery so arresting that you don't care that they just spent 50 minutes talking about how great they are and how people constantly dog them because of petty jealousy.

Enter Eminem.

In the age of paranoia and uncertainty, Eminem's ability to shock just isn't as present as it used to be. Shit, real-life is currently more terrifying than anything on Eminem's latest album, The Eminem Show. Eminem would be gone the way of Insane Clown Posse if he just relied on his ability to shock. And unlike other self-absorbed artists (be it rappers or emo-boys), Eminem's albums usually contain full emotional spectrums: one song is misogynistic, boastful and blaring, another song is a razor-sharp critique of hip-hop culture that would have been at home on NPR's Morning Edition.

Yeah, Eminem does a lot of talking about himself, but oh, what great topics to discuss. Why does a successful white rapper sell almost three times as many albums as the most successful black rapper? Why did people go after Eminem for his homophobic comments but barely raise an eyebrow when the Wu-Tang-Clan did the same thing? Shouldn't standards be equal in the entertainment industry, regardless of race? All these questions were addressed in the opening track, "White America." We have 19 more tracks, and if you're even in the least bit interested in Eminem, you're glued to the headphones. And why is it that music fans be so empty without him ("Without Me")?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Eminem covers a ton of ground in The Eminem Show. In the final song, "My Dad's Gone Crazy," he sympathizes for the oppressed, impoverished people of Afghanistan ("blow everything fuckin' thing 'cept Afghanistan on the map off"), expresses his undying love for his daughter by giving her some air time on a very high-profile album, makes one of the most outrageous and inappropriate analogies in a song ("more pain inside of my brain than in the eyes of a girl inside of a plane, aimed at the World Trade") and he still has enough time to come out of the closet (good for him!).

Some parts of The Eminem Show succumb to the worst of clichés in rap, such as unfunny skits and an obligatory song about the perils of STD's ( Rolling Stone was right: Ice Cube's song, "Look Who's Burnin'" still reins as the ultimate song regarding a visit to the free clinic). The strange phenomenon about the worst elements of The Eminem Show is that all of the weakest parts of the album come when Eminem is not addressing topics dealing with him.

The Eminem Show was primarily produced by Eminem with Dr. Dre serving as executive producer. It's a slight move by Eminem to distance himself from just being a protégé to Dre, but still keeping his ties close. The result is Eminem's most "rocking" album. Rap purists may dis the album as being too metal or rock, but history shows that some of the best rap albums ( Raising Hell, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back) had plenty of rock in them.

Like the series 24, you leave The Eminem Show feeling rejuvenated and breathless. At the same time, you feel a bit fearful about the future of the product: where does Eminem go from here? How much further can he look within himself before it gets old? How many more times can he rip open the wounds of his childhood before it starts to become a novelty? That's Eminem's problem, not ours, however. In the meantime, stop worrying about how he will one-up himself and enjoy The Eminem Show for what it's worth. It's an album that is so complex and dense that Eminem can take a five-year absence and the album could still be capable of revealing surprises.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2003 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Aftermath Records, and is used for informational purposes only.