Eminem - The Eminem Show [Aftermath - 2002]The third and final part of the trilogy marks an important point in Mr. Marshall Mathers' career. The pressure to top Marshall Mathers LP (2000) has been immense and the success he has would seem unsurpassable. Loved among serious amounts of fans, hated by the government and selling more albums than you could imagine (and still record companies are moaning about downloading music and burning CDs); Eminem has everything a pop star requires. George Bush can start worrying even more, because The Eminem Show tops Slim Shady's all previous work, and he is set to reach a godlike status only dead pop stars have.
The Eminem Show is more personal than ever, of course resembling with the album title. Not only considering the lyrics, but the sound is also heading towards an Eminem-direction instead of relying on the Dr. Dre concept, who is his guru, mentor, producer and partner. It attracts attention that the tracks produced by Eminem – which is the majority – are rather very dark pop songs instead of trendy hip hop songs. But not only producing-wise Eminem has grown towards enormous proportions; his rhymes, patterns and mechanics are of a constantly improving high standard: most rappers don't even come near, and it will take a long time before anybody does, if ever. Eminem is twisting and playing with words at places you wouldn't think it was possible, never overdoing with speed but nonetheless using inimitable schemes. Even Bat Man themes are used, with Shady as big caped hero of course. Ha, Aerosmith's Joe Perry even re-recorded his Dream On guitar solo to fit with the other samples on Sing For The Moment, just to give you an idea what kind of super-star Eminem actually is. But is he really happy with it? "If I could go back/I never would have rapped", he regrets. "I've created a monster" he starts on the disco-hop track Without Me, but in the same track he explains what happens when there really was no Eminem. And we don't want that. Against the expectations, Eminem's lyrics are angrier than ever before, treating again the well-known subjects such as his youth, parents and ex-wife Kim, but also rants and raves against the government (and especially Lynne Cheney) and the music industry. He's hasn't forgotten what Limp Bizkit and Moby said about him either. But the attack on his mother in Cleaning Out My Closet is as far away from pop music as you can think of. "I hope you fucking burn in hell" isn't really nice is it? But the aspect humour isn't forgotten either. The gun-incident that almost got him in jail is used in some skits on the album, later on rapping "Who need bullets?" "Put anthrax on a tampax/slap you till you can't stand", referring to groupies, makes us smile again between all the depressive hatred brought forward, especially towards women (except for his daughter Haillie), reminiscently explained in Superman. Of course we have the usual guests on the album; Obie Trice (Drips) is slowly becoming a new star... Nate Dogg (Till I Collapse), D12 (When The Music Stops) and Dr Dre (Say What You Say) do their duty. But the most surprising guest is probably Mathers' own daughter Haillie Jade, performing like a grown-up woman in My Dad's Gone Crazy, followed by the sound of curtains closing, instead of a loud and long applause he deserved for this album, topping 77 minutes. The Eminem Show is the album of the year. Or at least it is very good. It expands the paths walked on the two previous albums of the trilogy, and doesn't fall into repetition too much. And what if it is repetitive? The enjoyable factor of this disc is amazingly high. Mr. Marshall Mathers wiggles like he's never done before and we are left dazed and confused... and dancin'... Justin Faase