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Eminem's Best Album (Musically and Lyrically)
The Eminem Show - Eminem
Member Name: EdgySurveys
The Eminem Show - Eminem
Advantages: Steller production, adult subject-matter, incredible lyricism.
Disadvantages: Arguably one or two tracks that shouldn't be on there.
Overall, I think Eminem has made three CLASSIC albums.
By a classic album, I mean an album that is of such a quality and spark that it will not only stand the test of time, but that it holds its own very special, elevated place within the genre.
Eminem's first album, 'The Slim Shady LP' is basically an undisputed classic within hip hop. Even hip hop fans who aren't particularly big on Eminem, will usually give him that. It was very original at the time, totally left-field, comedic and blew everything else out the water. It felt fresh and daring.
His next album, 'The Marshall Mathers LP' is even more solidified as a classic, even to music fans outside of the genre. That album was huge, ballsy and insanely controversial. It's a rare piece of reactionary art that is ballsy, groundbreaking, artsy, foul-mouthed, has more attitude than N.W.A. and that strikes the perfect balance between catchy and thoughtful. A line that almost no artist can successfully tread.
So after those two stomping, timeless albums, comes - 'The Eminem Show'.
Out of his first three, it's only really this album that isn't definitively accepted as a classic, per say. It's universally agreed to be a great album, and many fans (including myself) think it's his best, on most levels. However, even people who think it's great often don't concede that it's a classic hip hop album.
I think I understand why that is, I can appreciate that perspective, but I don't agree with it. I think this album is absolutely a classic hip hop album, and Eminem's true peak.
I think the reason this album ('The Eminem Show') is not so easily considered a 'classic' is because it's not as creative and artistic. On the surface. This album is more realistic and introspective. More human and down to earth, and because of that, it feels more like drama and theater than art.
And, the word 'art' can be somewhat ambiguous of course. As generally speaking, it just means self-expression and generally speaking, if somebody INTENDS something to be art, then IT IS art. Quality is subjective, and personal, and the mistake most make is to think that calling something 'art' immediately implies that it's 'good' art. Which is not the case. The word is just a label to broadly categorize a creation in some kind logical way in the mind. I could throw my waste at a canvas and call it art. Doesn't mean it's good, or meaningful.
However, when I use the word art when talking about Eminem's first two major-label albums ('The Slim Shady LP' and 'The Marshall Mathers LP') I am in fact implying a certain kind of art. Those albums have abstract elements. Eminem indulges in character, persona juggling, tongue in cheek, irony, storytelling, cartoonish violence and many complex and interesting literary techniques that makes them as much showcases of skill and intelligence as they are music and entertainment.
So when speaking of those two albums, it's a lot easier for most critics or fans to call them art, and therefore classics, as they feel electric and creative.
So then take 'The Eminem Show'. The majority of the album is Em settling scores, both with public and political critics, and himself. And his own inner-demons. Which is nothing new, the only difference is, on this album - he treats it all a lot more seriously and the album feels more adult. And because of that, and because he's often lecturing or stating things in a very real and serious way, I think people feel less inclined and able to brand it a classic, as it's so down to earth and serious.
It's hard to explain exactly why that is but I understand it, as I feel it too. I think it's just easier to recognize a creation as historic and worthy, the more original it feels. And Eminem's first two albums both feel wholly original due to their execution. They feel larger than life. And Eminem always feels larger than life but on 'The Eminem Show', he's much more human.
The reason this album is more serious is partially down to Eminem wanting to be taken more seriously as an artist. After "My Name Is" and this vague public perception of him as a jokey, novelty rapper, Em was quite rightfully unhappy with this MISconception of him and what he stands for, which is partially why 'The Marshall Mathers LP' is more angry and realistic. As he wanted to firmly disassociate himself from any kind of cheap pop stars he was being compared to simply because he was handsome and catchy.
This is a trend he continues on 'The Eminem Show'. Eminem is a very obsessive person and artist, even speculating himself to have OCD. I myself have bipolar and have noticed that almost every great artist or so-called genius I can think of either had or was suspected to have some kind of mental disorder. Whether it be Autism, OCD, ADHD or Bipolar, or other. I think this is because all of these disorders create extreme mindsets and obsessive thinking patterns that when mixed with intelligence, spark inherent creativity and drive and involuntary perfectionism that leads to incredible output.
I don't believe perfectionism is a choice, I think it's a certain kind of brain. Not a personality trait or foible. I'm a perfectionist but I don't choose to be, I can't help it, and it drives me nuts.
Eminem is one of the most notorious perfectionists in music history too. You can hear it in his lyrics, this is why his mind-blowing rhymes are so intricate and consistent, he pushes everything to the max and doesn't stop until he feels it's perfect, or maxed-out.
Relating back to what I was saying, I believe this is what drove him forward to create a more serious album in 'The Eminem Show'. After getting more serious with 'The Marshall Mathers LP', I think he probably liked the respect it yielded and decided he wanted to hang up the antics for a while and become a more serious artists, and deal with more adult subject-matter in a more adult way. It also tied in with '8 Mile' and what he was creating with "Lose Yourself" and the character he was playing in that movie. It was all more adult, poetic and grounded in melody and reason.
Creatively and artistically, I think 'The Marshall Mathers LP' is head and shoulders the greatest thing Em has ever done and probably ever will do. It's, in my mind, without question his greatest achievement as an artist and given the element of surprise and 'newness' neccessary for him as an artist and that kind of project, and the kind of artist he is... I seriously doubt he'll ever create anything that will even come close to it again. Because he's a reactionary artist, which is why his second album - the reaction to the first, was the absolute perfect peak for him to explode and disrupt.
The public simply know him and his shtick all to well now. Which is why I think he's decided, at least in part, to try and create songs that now reach outside the genre and basic shock element of great rap, songs like "Space Bound" and "Love the Way You Lie". The latter of which is a pretty ingenious collaboration. I'm not Rihanna's biggest fan, but putting her of all people on that hook, on a song about domestic violence... was a brilliant, brilliant idea. And the kind of thing he should be doing more.
Like I said, I think 'The Marshall Mathers LP' is his greatest work, artistically. But I think 'The Eminem Show' is far and above all of his albums, lyrically and musically. I think it's the closest he's come to a perfect album, it's top to bottom brilliance, doesn't let-up for a second, and rarely drags.
Every single track on this album sounds like it should be there. Even the arguably pointless or filler tracks like "Drips" and "Superman" fit absolutely perfectly in tone and gel with everything else on the album with utter ease. Nothing sounds out of place. A rare feat, on any album.
In 2002, I heard Eminem say that he "put his ass" into this album, and you can tell. Man oh man you can tell. This album is one big payoff of hard work, top to bottom, inside out.
From the ominous, bombastic, rap-rock production to the dedicated vocal layering line for line, to the careful thinking behind almost every lyric of every song.
A friend of mine says to me that Em sold-out with 'The Eminem Show'. Clearly he's a moron who hasn't properly listened to the album, or doesn't know what the term 'selling-out' even means. Or both. I bet both. Most people seem to think that, if an artist gets bigger... they've 'sold-out'. Getting more famous does not automatically make an artist a sell-out, regardless of aim or genre.
Selling-out is to metaphorically SELL your integrity for money. So the implication that Eminem sold-out with this album is pure madness.
What kind of a 'sell-out' calls out members of the Whitehouse and screams "I'd rather be a pussy-whipped bitch, eat pussy and have pussy-lips glued to my face with a clit-ring in my nose" on a track with his own daughter sarcastically on the hook?
Which is another point, many seem to throw around this notion that Em held his tongue or toned himself down after 'The Marshall Mathers LP'. Now, granted, 'The Eminem Show' isn't as horrorcore, crazy or daring - but that's because he'd already made his mark. He got people's attention with 'The Marshall Mathers LP', now it was time to say something worth saying.
But, he went from dissing pop stars, to calling out members of Congress. Nobody in their right mind who understands, even on a basic level, what selling-out is, can say THAT is it. On 'The Eminem Show', the targets got bigger, more valid and more justly dealt with.
Em deals with 'the race issue' ingeniously on "White America", buries his mother with manic fury on "Cleanin' Out My Closet", takes Bush to task on "Square Dance" and slaughters anyone and everyone else within reach elsewhere, in a mad flurry of tongue-in-cheek, anger, fantastical violence and lyrical onslaught. Em pushes his talent, thoughts and passion to the max on this album, it bursts with energy and vibrance from every angle and is a musical adventure truly fitting of a 'show' title.
Aside from incredible lyricism and content, this album also fully explores Eminem's potential and strengths as a producer. Personally, I think he's a major force as a producer too and majorly underrated as one.
I rarely hear him mentioned among the greats or even at all when it comes to producing, but when you consider that alongside The Bass Bros he's produced the most unique and electrifying beats of his career, and more than Dr. Dre. Many would scoff at even suggesting Eminem can come close to Dre as a producer, yet take a look at 'The Marshall Mathers LP' - Em's solo contribution, "The Way I Am" stands out amongst an album chock-full of Dre and Mel Man. The beat not only stands out, but many would agree it's the best on the album. So, how ridiculous is that suggestion now...
On 'The Eminem Show', Em totally settles in to the producer role and creates beats that compliment his flow perfectly. He's a unique producer in the sense that he often creates a flow in his head first, as he writes a song, and then creates the beat to fit that flow. Which is why almost every beat on this album has its own unique melody and memorable tune that becomes one with Eminem's flow.
It's a crime against music that 'The Marshall Mathers LP' did not win the Album of the Year Grammy. WHAT on Earth was bigger that year? give me a break. And, if he didn't win for that, he sure as hell should of won for 'The Eminem Show', it's an amazingly cohesive album.
Overall, I say this is Eminem's most coherent and impressive album. It encapsulates every aspect of his character and artistry that makes him what he is, to the maximum potential. His prior two captured elements, in bursts, and his most recent do the same. But 'The Eminem Show' is the only one that fully amplifies every corner of his brilliance in full glare.
Aside from all the politics, intelligence, humour, artistic sensibilities, literary excellence and all else that is rooted in this material - above all else, as I'm sure to the pleasure of just plain die hard music fans, it's very very melodic and entertaining. Just purely on a musical front. It's a joy to listen to, undeniably catchy and infectious from start to finish. And on a bigger and better platform than pop could ever achieve, it has balls, personality and depth. It's a classic.
Summary: Eminem's third straight classic (after his first two major releases). And his best album.