The Eminem Show, Eminem
Guess who's back, back again?
THE EMINEM SHOW
Hyped as one of the most closely guarded pre-release projects in history, Eminem's The Eminem Show hit stores one week before its original planned release, all in efforts to stop the bootlegging and piracy of entrepreneurial fans, who were openly selling copies in New York for $5.00. Marshall Mathers himself said that he would "beat the shit out fans" who have illegally uploaded his music on the Internet. He goes on to say, "I think that shit is fucking bullshit. Whoever put my shit on the Internet, I want to meet that motherfucker and beat the shit out of him, because I picture this scrawny little dickhead going 'I got Eminem's CD! I got Eminem's CD! I'm going to put it on the Internet.' I think that anybody who tries to make excuses for that shit is a fucking bitch."
Well, if I ever meet Eminem, I will not tell him that for the purpose of this review, I downloaded his CD from the Internet.
Despite the piracy, The Eminem Show went on to sell 285,000 copies on its first day, as reported by SoundScan. He's the only artist ever to take the number one spot on its initial release date, pushing the previous top-spot holder, P. Diddy, to the number two spot. Eminem also holds the record for best single-week sales by a solo artist (The Marshall Mathers LP sold 1.7 million copies). The previous record holder for a rap artist was Snoop Dogg with 1993's Doggystyle at 800,000 copies. In an effort to combat bootlegging, the new CD also includes exclusive DVD footage for the first two million copies sold through stores. But some things stay the same: Walmart, Rosie O'Donnell's favourite store, has already banned The Eminem Show for its explicit lyrics.
The third effort by Eminem is by far his best work yet. Through his music, Eminem has evolved as a person and as an artist, beginning with his alter ego in The Slim Shady LP, transgressing to more serious fare in The Marshall Mathers LP, and finally releasing his demons in the personalized The Eminem Show. He's still in top form - and attacks his songs with such fury and passion that you can't help but get wrapped up in his world. With this release, Eminem hopes you will take him more seriously.
Entertainment Weekly's columnist David Browne said The Eminem Show "reeks of desperation, as if he needs to remind everyone, even himself, that he's still relevant." I interpreted the CD in a different manner: Eminem is still relevant, he knows he's still relevant, and the desperation that seeps through is due to the loneliness his fame, money, and failed relationships have caused him. In "Say Goodbye to Hollywood," Eminem laments, "It's like the boy in the bubble, who never could adapt, I'm trapped, if I could go back, I never woulda rapped." One of the most prominent themes of the CD is the price of fame, which pits his childhood dreams of being a rap star against his responsibilities as a father.
In this release, no one is spared. Eminem attacks his ex-wife (Kim), the man he found kissing her (John Guerra), his mother (Debbie), his father (who left the family when Eminem was a wee baby), George Bush, R. Kelly, Canibus, Jermaine Dupri, Moby, and Chris Kirkpatrick from *NSYNC, just to name a few. He is also possibly the only rap artist ever to rhyme anthrax with Tampax (in "Superman"). He talks about his various lawsuits, problems with family, and love for his daughter, Hailie. Eminem is hurting, and he wants you to know that.
All the tracks on the CD are above excellent, except maybe for the foolish "My Dad's Gone Crazy" (which features Hailie yelling, "I think my dad's gone cra-azy!") Eminem strays from the usual rap formula and incorporates disco, "bombastic funk," south-style hip-hop, and rock into his songs. His lyrics are sharp and ingenious, and flow like a pat of softened butter over the smooth, pulsating beats. This man is a lyrical mastermind. I bet he can incorporate Happy Birthday into a song and make it sound fresh and dynamic.
[Eminem bares his soul. Part II of the article.]