The first thought that came to mind when I first listened to this album; for me, the most anticipated rap album ever; was, “What happened?” I praised Eminem for the lyrical skills he so effortlessly displayed on his Slim Shady debut, but this follow-up brings with it a certain level of disappointment. The verses simply don’t measure-up to the standard of excellence he’s set for himself.
While the rapper hasn’t fallen off completely, he’s now content surrounding classic bars with what in comparison amounts to filler. I’m Back, on which he commits the musical blunder of singing the chorus in the melody of the beat, has him wasting precious time in a pool of babble. The words rhyme, but what he says is a lot less interesting than anything he had to say on The Slim Shady LP.
Suddenly going from an unknown rapper to the most popular rapper in the world, thus made an easy target for prudes who don’t believe in free speech, has apparently affected his creativity. There’s still a zany emphasis on drugs and violence, but he’s much more focused on taunting critics and harmless peers, like Britney Spears and Christopher Reeve, than composing a clever verse.
Still, Eminem at his corniest or most boring; The Way I Am is a snoozer for me; is better than most rappers. And when he manages to tap into his Shady LP greatness for whole songs, as on the Stan and Kim narratives, they stand as his best. Best verse? Under The Influence or the last verse on Criminal. Both are brilliant. The point is that the brilliance on this album is spotty.
If you’ve never heard of Eminem before and you’re smart enough to know that he’s just joking when he drops a line about lifting Christopher Reeve’s legs, this album should impress. But if you go back and listen to The Slim Shady LP, you’ll realize that Eminem’s raps were a lot more impressive when the spotlight was focused on his alter-ego as opposed to The Real Slim Shady.
my rating = 4 of 5