Encore - Eminem
by Mike D'Ariano
Okay, first of all, I have no personal agenda here which will cause me to rip apart Eminem. In other words he doesn't offend me, and I don't think his music is going to bring the country to a crashing halt. Second of all, I have no personal agenda here which will cause me to say Eminem is the greatest thing that ever happened to music. In other words, the number of records Eminem sells does not effect my ratings, sales, relationship with his record label (I don't have one) or indistinguishable from all of those things, my wallet. I don't think anyone in the past few years has covered Eminem without falling into one of those two categories. That said, onto the new album.
Encore is Eminem's forth official album, and his fifth album if you count the soundtrack to his movie 8-Mile. Basically, it's more of what we've come to expect from Em. There are a few SUPER poppy songs on here which will ensure the album's sales go thorough the roof. There's a lot of crazy Dr. Dre beats that get your head bobbing whether you realize you're doing it or not. There's a handful of annoying beats . . . that song Toy Soldiers sucked the first time around in the 80's, so in keeping with big time hip-hop's recent quest to find the most annoying sounds in the world and repeat them 300 times per song, the chorus of the original Toy Soldiers is all over the Eminem song by the same name. Finally of course, there are lots of lyrics that some people will find really offensive, some people will find really funny, and some people, like myself, will find really funny and really offensive. Is there really a difference?
What's missing, contrary to a recent Rolling Stone cover story "The Serious Side of Eminem", are the intelligent (offensive and stupid are not synonyms) introspective songs that were all over The Marshal Mathers LP and The Eminem Show. The songs on Encore are decidedly more silly overall than on any previous Eminem album. I might have missed all the jokes about farting and puking, but I don't think Em kills his wife or curses out his Mom at all on this album. The song "Mockingbird", about growing up poor and trying to protect his daughter from the things he went through, is the exception.
The goofy low point of the album is a section of the tune "Ass Like That" which makes fun of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog . . . really Em? The president and about a hundred groups around the country are constantly protesting you and calling for censorship of your music and you want to start a rap battle with a hand puppet? Sigh.
Anyway, other than the line in the song "Rain Man" where Eminem answers his critics quickly and perfectly with the deceptively simple line, "You find me offensive? I find you offensive for finding me offensive." Encore is full of catchy but not really great songs from a guy that has achieved greatness repeatedly over the past few years. Sadly in the world of pop music, which is where, highly offensive or not, Em deserves to be classified, this move away from actually saying anything, will probably boost his sales. What can you do?
So interestingly enough, a reviewer that doesn't love or hate Eminem on the way in, is saying the new album isn't great and it isn't awful. Go figure.