Just yesterday I highlighted the relative rapping skills of Eminem in comparison to Jay-Z, and today we have the next release from Eminem, his fourth album “The Eminem Show”. Continuing to expand his reach and grasp on his audience, this album was the #1 selling album of 2002. In general, I remain a fan of Eminem as he again partners with Dr. Dre, although Eminem takes on more of the lead production here, and the overall music quality on this record is pretty impressive once again. I do have one criticism of Eminem that applies to most of his music, but it really rises to the surface on this album. Before I get to that, I will accentuate the positives.
Eminem remains pretty angry at the world, and at various times we hear him lashing out at his parents, his wife/ex-wife, his management, the U.S. government, seemingly most females, and the general public at large. This fury is well captured on many of these tracks, and it is paired up well with his typically outstanding MC efforts and some really bouncy and catchy tracks. I saw a clip yesterday from Fifty Cent (stand by for more on him), and he was talking about the fact that even though hip-hop is primarily a black music phenomenon, there are few rappers of any race who can stand toe-to-toe with Eminem, and I think he’s absolutely right. Go back to the track “Forgot About Dre”, released in 1999, if you need any more evidence to his clear and demonstrated talents.
Among my favorite tracks on “The Eminem Show” are “White America”, “Cleanin’ Out My Closet”, which is particularly personal and intense, “Square Dance”, “Sing for the Moment”, which is set to the accompanying Aerosmith song “Dream On”, and another great collaboration with Dr. Dre, “Say What You Say”. I didn’t know this in advance, but once I heard the extended guitar solo on the song built around Aerosmith, it isn’t surprising at all that it is performed by Joe Perry.
In summary, this is another really good product from Eminem (and Dre), and if you liked his previous records, you probably loved this one as well. My issue with this record and in some ways, the music world and certainly hip-hop music in particular, is the extreme amount of misogynistic content on this record and beyond. If your “schtick” is to constantly trash women and call them bitches, whores, and sluts, I suppose that is the prerogative of any artist to produce that content. Music has always playfully poked at the love-hate relationship between the genders, and the boundary of acceptability and range of tolerance is different for everyone. Where I take issue here is Eminem’s prominent feature of his young daughter Hailie on this record. There is one song named for her, she is mentioned in several others, and she even is prominently featured in the song “My Dad’s Gone Crazy”. If the female gender in total is so incredibly offensive and objectionable, so be it, but to me he should probably realize he’s setting the expectation that it is ok to think and talk like this, and he can’t have it both ways when that cruel women-hating world reflects the same behavior and language back at his own growing daughter. I’m not a father of women or girls, but I obviously know many who are, and I don’t think I would appreciate such references towards the many women and growing girls I know in my life. My guess is that the common defense of “it’s a joke, don’t take it seriously” would be applied by Eminem and his most supportive fans, but to me, I think it goes a bit too far and it really isn’t that entertaining at all. If he wants to pick on the industry or the government or other select and deserving targets, fine by me. However, if I had my way, I would ask him to leave the 99.99% of the female gender that he targets out of his verbal range-finder.
One thought on “Eminem “The Eminem Show” (2002)”
Ditto on your comments about misogyny. It’s enough to turn me off to the whole genre. However, I do like Eminem for one thing, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. The whole Slim Shady thing is so much fun. And his music is fun to sing along to. However, he does at the same time take himself too seriously, like a lot of rappers. It’s a strange combination. I expect that your ability to like his music is related to your ability to relate to the self-pity and the outrage – and both of those emotions are very much in vogue lately.