Album: The Eminem Show
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Eminem's ability to get introspective reaches its peak, as the rapper examines his impact on society, his own history and his fanbase.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: With the wealth of producers, the album sounds sporadic and distant. Em's flow is meaner and more aggressive as he appears to have lost his sense of humor sometime along the road to fame.
Best song: "Without Me" has a nice beat, but the lyrics are sort of annoying. "Say Goodbye Hollywood" actually is pretty good.
Worst song: I really don't like "Cleaning Out My Closet."
Is it awesome?: Nope.
I don't really know where to put this -- it has absolutely nothing to do with this particular album -- but since I have the floor, I wanted to vent about two things I see on other Web sites' comment sections.
The first is an extension of my annoyance with "IM talk" as a way of communicating. Every once in a while, you'll see someone write "effing" or "eff" in a blog post or comment section.
This is fucking stupid.
The reason that one says "eff" or "effing" is because they are trying to use a verbal version of "f" or "f-ing." It's pretty simple; They are simple naming the letter to invoke a bad word. While this annoys me a little in speech (we're all adults and bad words are still just words), I have a potty mouth. That particularly thing may be a Ross problem.
Nevertheless, when you're typing and you're self-censoring, what is the goddamned point of writing "effing." First off, "eff" is not a word. "F" is what you would be saying. That's it. If you're writing an e-mail, type "what the f?" Or "What the f--k?" If you're posting a blog comment, say "f-ing." Don't spell it out. It's two more keystrokes.
People I know and like do this, which makes it even worse.
The second annoyance is a speech pattern-type thing. I was toiling around the Tubes, reading about baseball and came upon this comment on an ESPN.com story:
Jim Rice, The Goose, The Rock, Andre Dawson - all should be in the Hall of Fame. There should be a way to enshrine at least 5 players a year. I don't like the present system. But that is just my opinion.
(Emphasis is mine)
Few things annoy me more than "That is just my opinion." It's one of those speech/typing crutches that take any and all weight of your opinion. I know people who say it are trying to be polite and not forceful, but, goddamnit, this is the Internet. There is no room for being polite. None.
Moreover, have you ever seen anyone in any particular position of power say "That is just my opinion?" By it's nature, that sentence makes anything you say totally forceless. Have you ever seen a presidential candidate say "It's just my opinion, but everyone should have health care?" Of course not. Has Osama bin Laden ever said "The United States is the great Satan. That is just how I feel?" Of course not. No one would take him seriously if he did.
More importantly, it's repetitive. We know it's your opinion. Your name (or login) is attached to it and it's a blog comment. You're expressing an opinion with the word "should." No right-minded person would look at that as fact, and if that person did, he or she is a moron.
OK, I'm done ranting.
"The Eminem Show" is Eminem's third album and the one where he looks the most inward. Normally, I'd love the full fruition of an introspective rapper like Em, but it's also the point where Em gained more creative control of the beats on his records. So, we have Em twiddling knobs and losing his sense of humor.
Introspection, in his case, appears to just be an exploration of Em's victim complex and his massive ego. That's fine; Eminem is a rapper. That's what they do. Still, it's obnoxious and his worst record so far.
"White America" is the album's opener (for all intents and purposes) and is something of a campaign speech for Eminem. That he mentions that he could be someone's kid and that TRL loves him in the hook is Em's best asset; He knows that being white has really helped him and he scares a lot of people. I enjoy that Em touts free speech -- I'm a free speech absolutist -- but that he is so excited about how Congress is out to get him is annoying.
It's a theme that Em works through on nearly every track. "Soldier" is the classic gangsta rap record that just sounds unconvincing. The best beat on the record is on "Without Me," but, unfortunately, Em spends the song mentioning that he's going to kick the asses of a member of *NSync, the folks in Limp Bizkit and Moby (also, calling Moby a "fag." Classy, Marshall.) and saying that the rap world is "empty without me."
(Note to Em: The rap world has been fine without you the past few years. Ghostface has put out two amazing records and your protege 50 Cent has put out some fine music. Lupe Fiasco is smart and clever and Kanye West has taken Euro disco and sampled it for hip hop. So, really, no, it's not empty without you.)
Em avoids "the world is out to get Em" storyline, as he raps in "Say Goodbye Hollywood," which is good, but that ability doesn't gain enough traction, partially thanks to some questionable beats. "Cleaning Out My Closet" is another song wherein Em sounds vulnerable -- something most rappers don't do often -- but the beat is some sort of staccato thing that doesn't compliment the lyrics.
You know, the farther Em gets away from Dr. Dre, the most his beats tend to stray. His lyrics continue to be interesting, if mostly humorless (the "This shit's about to get heavy/I just settled all my lawsuits. Fuck you, Debbie!" couplet notwithstanding). It's too bad, because Em is talented, he just takes himself too seriously sometimes.