|Eminem - Encore|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Dan MacIntosh|
|Friday, 19 November 2004|
“Encore” is a challenging title for an Eminem CD, since it must be increasingly difficult for this lightning rod artist to top himself with each succeeding album release. Up to this point, he’s made a name for himself as a legitimate white rapper, found his name in the police blotter now and again, and sometimes offended women and gays with his highly volatile music. Most recently, he’s even earned respect from the Hollywood community for his acting in the film “8 Mile.” Now, with Encore, Eminem focuses again on what he does best, which is creating rap that is confrontational yet high quality.
As with past Eminem CDs, it’s sometimes difficult to get past all the controversial (read: offensive) sections of Encore and on to the truly good stuff. For instance, it’s worthwhile that he has the guts to delve into his love/hate relationship with his ex in a few places on this album, but does he really need to overdo the recorded sound effect of throwing up, which he utilizes repeatedly on “Puke”? Do not listen to this track right after eating, by the way, or you might just find yourself unwillingly upchucking right along with him. Instead, Eminem is far more effective when he’s using his natural bullying nature to take on Bush’s war in Iraq, which he does passionately on “Mosh,” for instance.
Although “Mosh” is a step in the right direction for Eminem, since it finds him beginning to weigh in on international issues, he is still at his best whenever he gets personal. Many of his lyrical punches land solidly, because they also hit so close to home. One is called “Evil Deeds,” which uses Psalm-like Biblical phrases to discuss the relationship (or lack thereof) he has with is father. On “Never Enough,” he admits that – even with all the success he’s attained so far – none of it will ever be enough to keep him satisfied. And since these statements come from a rapper, in a genre where it’s all too common to simply pretend that accumulated bling-bling keeps these artists sincerely happy, this is a truly heavy admission.
Sonically, Encore is a fairly stripped-down affair. It’s as if Eminem only included what was absolutely necessary within these mixes to get his points across. Exceptions include “Crazy In Love,” which samples and speeds up Heart’s “Crazy On You.” In fact, there are a few obvious samples throughout this disc. In addition to sounding hard when he needs to be, or soft – as on “Mockingbird” for his daughter – when gentle is what’s called for, Eminem also changes his accent now and again throughout. In a few places he raps like an uneducated redneck, while in one instance, he reaches for a Middle Eastern accent. Also scattered about are guest appearances from 50 Cent, D-12 and, of course, his producer Dr. Dre.
In the context of live performances, the term “encore” has almost lost all meaning, since it has become a predictable standard operating procedure in many cases, instead of a legitimate audience demand for more great music. But not so with this recorded Eminem encore, since his return to the stage is fully warranted. More of “The Eminem Show” is also more of a good thing.