When "Just Lose It" hit MTV, some red flags went up across the country. I mean, Eminem's first singles are always cheesy, taking shots at celebrities and referencing his storied past along a bouncy beat.
But "Just Lose It?" With its laser blips, repeating of past lines and anti-chorus, it seemed like Marshall wasn't even trying. There was even a fart worked into the song.
From a guy who I thought had been growing up, I was expecting something relevant, something political and harsh.
And then a second single hit before the album dropped. "Mosh" was relevant, political and a bit harsh. Recalling "White America," the song came out about a week before the election, coupled with a video making Em's last push for John Kerry. It's not a breathtaking song, with general lyrics that don't prove to me that Em's too informed, but the low piano notes provide a good base for some passionate rhyming. And at least here, he seems like he's trying.
Encore, unfortunately, is a little bit too much like "Just Lose It." Half-assed tracks make for boring filler between the few bright spots.
The half-assed tracks are all grouped together, so you only have to make one trip to the "skip" button. "Rain Man," a poke at Christopher Reeve ("I killed Superman.") is only redeemed by the great opening line, "I find you offensive for finding me offensive." Next is "Big Weenie," where Em brags about his large penis and makes fun of how he hasn't said anything important in the whole song.
"Just Lose It" is next, but "Ass Like That" takes the cake. A song about Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and hot girls, Eminem does a Triumph voice and talks about celebrities that make his "pee-pee go boing-boing-boing." For all I know this song could be a critique of songs that objectify women (since Eminem is so into liberal causes now), but I clearly missed any of that.
50 Cent, Obie Trice, Nate Dogg and D-12 make guest spots, but only "One Shot 2 Shot" - which could easily be a D-12 song - makes any noise.
Luckily, there are a couple very bright spots.
"My First Single" uses synth and clap-happy percussion to create a hectic beat for one of Em's most original cadences. The second verse is not to be missed as Eminem pulls out a insanely fast and memorable flow that will need to be repeated a few times to catch.
However, with sounds of burping and defecation, even this song has its downsides. In fact, the sound effect usage is fairly heavy and never funny. It seems like Eminem might have trouble taking himself too seriously when after his political "Mosh," he features the sound of puking to open "Puke" - his token Kim rant.
Eminem goes emo on "Toy Soldiers," his laments about his crew's "battles," complete with a military drum roll beat. It's a bit trite, but his stories about his rap battles with Ja Rule make for a compelling listen.
The stories are what always save Eminem. His little narratives make drivel like "Mockingbird" - about his daughter and his niece - and "Evil Deeds" - about his run-in with The Source - tolerable.
Because even when you're bored with Eminem's beats and his laughable choruses, you're fascinated with the celebrity. And he lets you in a little bit more on Encore, so it's not all bad.