Eminem CD Review – Encore
Two years after the release of The Eminem Show, Eminem finally let's loose another album. Encore, released November 12th, was yet another highly anticipated album from the genius we've come to know as Mr. Controversy. Encore was such a sought after album that the release date was pushed up by four days to minimize internet bootlegging. 3.75 million copies were pre-ordered, making Encore nearly 4 times platinum before it was even on the shelf of your local music store. Eminem raises the bar with every new release and the question, again, is will Encore be able to stand up to other masterpiece albums from himself such as The Marshall Mather's LP and The Eminem Show. Today I will put Encore under my own microscope to dissect each song piece by piece and determine whether or not this new album is up to Eminem standards. Let the test being.
First and foremost I would like to explain Eminem to an audience that may not know entirely what he's about. Before tossing him aside as just another rapper, take the time to read this review. Eminem is not just rap... He conveys his emotions and thoughts through what can only be described as his own style of music. While a lot of rappers fall short of anything original, Eminem serves up a dish unlike any other. He's controversial, speaks raw honesty, and jokes about topics a lot of people don't think should be joked about. Think of it in terms of hearing the same style of play and format on numerous different Death Metal bands. Then, a new breed of Death Metal is introduced by a band. An evolution in the genre.... That's basically what Eminem has done with rap, he has pushed the envelope and thus revolutionized the style. The same as it goes with any other artist: Don't judge a book by it's cover. Allow your mind to roam and explore other facets of musical culture.
I like to begin with CD appearances first, including the booklet and images in the casing. Upon first examination of Encore you notice the front cover of the booklet. Marshall Mathers stands on stage, dressed in a three piece suit with a red tie, as he bows to the crowd in front of him. His head points towards the ground, one arm in front of him and one behind him. “ENCORE” is written above his head, with the first “E” being reversed. The typical Parental Advisory sticker we've become accustomed to lays in the bottom right corner. When the CD booklet is flipped on it's back you see a picture of Marshall from behind, him in the same bow facing the crowd. In his hand, which remains behind is back, rests a gun. The crowd members are all dressed nicely and are clapping. I already like the way things are being laid out to unfold later on. Upon opening the booklet you notice lyrics to each song. On every page there is at least one picture of Eminem. The series of pictures shows a story of Eminem pre-show and the events leading up to a nice little surprise at the end of the album. I'll save the surprise until the final track review.
As for the rest of the contents within the CD casing, there are two CDs and a slip of paper advertising Eminem's new SIRIUS satellite radio station, Shade 45. The second CD is a bonus CD with three tracks. I will discuss these tracks after the main CD is complete.
1.Curtains Up: Following the same style as The Eminem Show, the CD begins with the curtains being raised and the sound of the crowd chanting “EM-I-NEM!” over and over. After a few seconds the second song thumps in seamlessly and the mayhem begins. The way the first track flows into the second track is great and sounds good, but it doesn't have the energy The Eminem Show had going from the Curtains Up into White America.
2.Evil Deeds: The first thing I notice is the heavy thump of bass backed by the usual badass beat we hear on most any Eminem track. The lyrics touch on specific people in his life, or perhaps people lacking in his life: The chorus states “Father please forgive me for I know not what I do, I just never had the chance to meet you.” The first few verses in the song are repeated in an odd yet catchy style. He goes on to rap about growing up, being his mom's evil spawn, the curtains of fame never closing when he's in public with his daughter, and other subjects (Kim) we've heard many times. The song is a great song. The lyrics flow in only a way Eminem can flow and the beat is flawless with much depth. The song ends with an explosion, probably of fireworks, and Eminem letting out a resounding “Oh!” to show excitement. It feels as though the show has truly begun.
3.Never Enough: This song features 50 Cent and Nate Dogg. Eminem begins the song, Nate Dogg runs the chorus, 50 speaks up, and then Nate ends on the chorus as well. This is a quick song, only reaching just over two and a half minutes. Eminem's lyrics lead me to believe the song was inspired by all the recent beef with numerous MCs and other people. 50 boasts what a badass he is and I can't blame him... I would to if Eminem and Dre saw talent in me. That's quite a compliment. Nate Dogg's chorus, as usual, is catchy and tightly wrapped. He's the master of the chorus.
4.Yellow Brick Road: One of my favorite tracks on the CD. This song is dedicated to discussing parts of Marshall's childhood. It also touches on the background of the controversial racial tape Eminem and a couple of friend's made long ago as a young kid. The song begins on how Eminem grew up getting his ass kicked almost daily living in the rough part of Detroit. He goes on to tell how he met Proof (Fellow D12 member) and then leads into the tapes creation and why it was made. An apology is clearly established and the song comes to a close. The beat is one of the best on the entire CD, I feel. It fits the content of the song perfectly and doesn't rush the lyrics from Eminem. It's a chilled paced in which you can grasp everything said and have time to process it.
5.Like Toy Soldiers: An absolutely brilliant song. An interpolation from Martika's “Toy Soldiers” song is used as the chorus to this song. During Eminem's rapping a piano slowly keys heart felt notes while military style drumming thuds away. The song is an attempt to squash the beef between Shady/Aftermath, Murder INC., and Eminem and Benzino. Eminem states that he's tired of it all and would rather end it now than see people die because of it all. This is a classy move on Eminem's part and is a great song that came from the heart.
6.Mosh: The weakest song on the album. The beat is basic and repetitive. The message is another Hollywood “I hate Bush” message. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if you've ever read any of my past reviews on any album you would know how much I hate politics and music mixing. The lyrics almost come to a point in which it sounds like Michael Moore wrote them. This is the only song on the entire album that just plain sucks.
7.Puke: Another Kim bashing song. The song starts out with the sound of Eminem puking. He then says “There I go, thinking of you again.” The beat then comes in and it's a stomp and clap style. Lyrically, Eminem bitches about things Kim has done that makes him sick. This theme is recurring with every new Eminem album. While it's all comedic and funny, I find the subject to be worn out. The beat and lyrical composure is finely tuned as usual though. The style in which Eminem raps the words is almost Broadway-ish. It's all quite entertaining, really.
8.My 1st Single: This is a hilarious song. The beat is a rat-tat-tat type of beat and the tempo is upbeat. A lot of the traditional turntable scratching of lyrics Eminem is known for are in this song. Lyrically, Eminem flows like a river in this song. Every word is delicately placed in accordance with the beat and every word beside it, it seems. The chorus is laced with sound effects of farts and burps along with Eminem Oh-ing and Ah-ing in a English type accent. The song touched on too many subjects to discuss, but I can assure you that all of them are funny.
9.Paul (skit): This is another item we've all come to known and love on each of Eminem's more well known CDs. Marshall's manager, Paul Rosenberg, calls Eminem to express concern about a new bit of information that Michael Jackson is upset about the Just Lose It video. He also states that he heard a rumor in which Eminem had a new gun. A couple of tracks later Marshall calls Paul back and leaves a hilarious message.
10.Rain Man: A song that makes little to no sense, yet is still funny as hell. Judging by Eminem's verse “I don't even gotta make no goddamn sense, I just did a whole song and didn't say shit” the goal was to make the song senseless. The beat made lots of sense though. Another flawless beat, slow paced and hard hitting. The lyrics jump from subject to subject, each keeping me laughing as well as the sound effects backing each situation.
11.Big Weenie: Lyrically, the song strikes out as those who seem to be jealous of Eminem. I can think of one person this song might be subtly directed towards, but the earlier track “Like Toy Soldiers” makes me think otherwise. Anyhow, the beat is slow and poignant. The song sports a half comedic sense and half serious sense as well. Almost sarcastically saying that all of the jealousy is childish, thus the use of words like “Big Weenie” and “Meanie.”
12.Em Calls Paul: This is the return call from Eminem to his manager Paul. Eminem uses a voice box (the microphone you put to your throat when you have no voice) to talk. He sounds monotone, like a robot. He pokes fun at Michael Jackson by using some of Michael's song titles through out the conversation. All the while, Marshall is on the toilet taking a shit. You can hear the nasty sounds in the background. It's all very hilarious.
13.Just Lose It: The first single off of this new album. It follows the classic Eminem formula: Catchy and comedic single to draw you in and then the rest of the album drops the heavy stuff on you. This is the song that stirred up Michael Jackson and inspired the Paul skit as well as Eminem's return phone call. The video portrays Eminem as Michael Jackson dancing around, nose falling off, hair on fire, and little children jumping on a large bed with him sitting on the edge of it.
14.Ass Like That: Another light and funny song. Eminem raps this song in the voice of Triumph The Insult Dog as he discusses a few celebrity's asses. The beat sports a Middle Eastern feel and the jokes roll in non-stop. Some of those discussed in the song are Jessica Simpson, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Hillary Duff, JoJo, and Gwen Steffani.
15.Spend Some Time: This song features Obie Trice, Stat Quo, and 50 Cent. The beat is slow paced and takes on a serious feel of a half-way love song. Obie Trice heads up the song followed by Eminem, Stat Quo, and 50 Cent. The chorus consists of a female voice softly singing “Spend some time with me” and is then followed by Eminem singing the remainder of the chorus. It works out well and sounds great. I haven't heard much of Stat Quo up to this point, but I'm not impressed by him in this song. Obie and 50 rap with the same consistency as expected.
16.Mockingbird: This song is a tear jerker. A soft piano keys it's way softly through your ears as Eminem begins to rap to his daughter. The song is a heartfelt song to Marshall's daughter, Hailie. The lyrics explain to Hailie the reason for her mom not being around and then goes on to assure her that her father is there for her and will continually be there to support her. In the chorus, Eminem sings to Hailie in a loving fashion to comfort her. The song expresses the love Marshall has for his daughter and shows the rest of the world that Eminem does in fact actually have feelings.
17.Crazy In Love: Yet another Kim-inspired song. This song includes excerpts from the oldschool song “Crazy On You” which are the chorus to the song and Eminem raps about the rough and physical relationship between Kim and himself. The beat is a neat one... It's features a quick pulsing sound backed by a slower, thumping bass. The rate at which Eminem raps is quicker than most other instances on the CD. He flows well, the beat is great, the chorus well done, but the subject matter becoming quickly old. We've heard about Kim more than enough in the past 3 albums.
18.One Shot 2 Shot: This track features D12, a rap group Eminem is apart of. The beat has the mischievous feel D12 fans will surely recognize. The song tells a story, each member of the group rapping their own piece of it. The story is about D12 performing in club when a drive by begins. People are running, bullets are flying, and it turns out it's a group D12 has problems with. Though it's a song about a gun fight, there is still a comedic sense to the song.
19.Final Thought (skit): This is a 30 second track. All you hear is paper crumpling or ripping, Eminem walking towards the stage, and the crowd chanting “EM-I-NEM!” Just before the last track on the album begins you hear Eminem take a deep breath.
20.Encore: This song features Dr. Dre and 50 Cent. I wasn't very impressed by this song. I thought it was a weak song to end the album on. Dre begins the song and spits a few short verses which then leads into the chorus. Part of the chorus says “Cause I don't ever want to leave the game without at least saying goodbye....” This would make me think Eminem was hanging it all up, but I doubt it. A similar track was on The Eminem Show (Say Goodbye To Hollywood) and never became of anything. Eminem has too much going for him to drop any of it. Eminem and Dre continue to swap it up through out the song, taking turns rapping. 50 Cent eventually makes his way into the mix and Eminem and Dre continue their rapping as well. The end of the song has Eminem claiming that the Dr. Dre – Detox album is coming and is not being scrapped as rumor had it. The crowd noise fades in, people clapping and chanting “EM-I-NEM!” as Eminem runs back on stage and yells “I almost forgot, you're coming with me!” Gun shots ring out, individuals screaming and crying, the crowd running around in a panic... Once the crowd is either dead or out of the building, Eminem says in a muffled voice (as to convey the fact that the gun is now in his mouth) “Bye bye!” Gun shot rings out, body hits the floor, and the monotone voice of Eminem using his voice box states “See you in hell, fuckers.”
Bonus CD: These three songs are all previously leaked songs.
1.We As Americans: This song is a slow song and seems like Eminem is stressing the fact that as Americans we should all drop the bullshit and work together.
2.Love You More: The best sadistic love song Eminem has ever done. His lyrics are sharp, they flow, and the meaning behind them are dark. The song sports a haunting feel as the piano and bass harmonize. I feel like the last chorus sums up the entire “dark” theme of the song: “No matter what you say, what you do, I will hunt you down 'till I find you, no matter where you go, I'll be right there, right behind you in your nightmares.” Great song.
3.Ricky Ticky Toc: This track explains how a lot of people try to start shit with Eminem to get famous, or they try to be friend's with Eminem for the simple fact of getting a stepping stone in the industry. There's a lot of good tough lyrical skill in this one. A good example of why beefing with Eminem can end up being a bad career move.
I feel it's safe to say we have another masterpiece on our hands. This album packs everything from flawless and ear pleasuring beats to witty and flowing lyrics. From start to finish I have very few complaints and replay value is definitely high. Eminem has proved yet again why he is where he is today in the music industry. With every track he makes, every CD he releases, and every word he rhymes, it's no wonder he stands next to the greats. All this couldn't have been done without Dre, though. Much credit goes to Dre in the usual areas: Production and beats (and I'm sure a lot more areas). Although, Eminem does do his fair share of producing. The two of them together are a gold mine and I don't see their extreme momentum slowing down anytime soon. If you've never bought an Eminem album, know nothing about Eminem, and would like to give him a try, this is a great chance. This CD dives right into Marshall's current events and you can then work your way back in his musical history if you like what you hear. On a scale of 1 – 10 I give this album a solid 9.
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