In the last few weeks, this soundtrack has been the subject of a growing buzz about the possibility that this will be the greatest hip hop soundtrack of all time. 8 Mile was being tossed around with soundtracks like Above the Rim, Belly, Training Day and Boyz N Tha Hood. This hype was undoubtedly created by a leaked tracklist that included Jay-Z, Nas, Xzibit, Rakim, 50 Cent, D-12 and of course Eminem. Can it live up to the hype?
Well yes and no. There are some gems on here, there's no disputing that. The album's lead single, 'Lose Yourself', is worth the money alone. Eminem raps in the persona of Rabbit, his character in 8 Mile. This track bangs, and is a perfect introduction into the album. Obie Trice and 50 Cent show up to lend Em a hand on 'Love Me', where we can find 50 returning to his rap roots with an obvious 'How To Rob' inspired verse. 50 doesn't really take shots at anyone who can shoot back, though. R. Kelly, Bow Wow, Lil Kim, Lauryn Hill, D'Angelo, Ashanti and Charli Baltimore… Maybe his recent signing to Shady Records is inspiring him in more ways than one. D-12 shows up for 'Rap Game', a solid if standard D-12 track, with the high points being Swifty's verse and 50's unbelievable Nate Dogg-ish hook. Em's growing musical genius is reflected in the inclusion of 'Wanksta', a solo 50 track currently tearing up the airwaves all over North America. This track adds some stability to the middle of the album, where Nas and Jay fail to do so. Both turn in fairly formulaic tracks. While Freeway sounds half decent on the track, '8 Miles and Runnin', Jay just doesn't seem to fit in with the roster on the album. Nas' track, 'You Wanna Be Me', is just straight up poor. It sounds like he wrote the rhymes in the car on the way to the studio, and even the beat sucks. Nas' double messages are just getting tired. Apart from that, Xzibit and Rakim drop lyrical bombs on 'Spitshine' and R.A.K.I.M.', respectively. Unfortunately, the beats don't match the lyrical intensity shown on these two tracks, though any doubters as to whether Ra still has it should just listen to this song and shut up. Rakim's track just gets me excited to hear him over nothing but Dre and Primo beats for an entire album. Finally, the crowing achievement of this album: Gangstarr's 'Battle'. Just when everyone was starting to criticize Primo for sounding too similar on his last few beats (I agree, to a minor extent), Preem switches it up and drops a gem that is absolutely ripped by Guru. Gangstarr is back boys and girls. 2003 will be the year.
A few misses on the album, that's to be expected of a soundtrack. Young Zee shows some promise on 'That's my N*gga Fo' Real', but he sounds like another generic punchline rapper. Macy Gray and RnB newcomer Boomkat have no place on the 8 Mile soundtrack, and Jay and Nas' songs leave a lot to be desired, but this album is going to have some heavy replay value, as most artists on the album clearly elevated their game for the occasion. Eminem's production style is drastically improving, and his lyrics and flow are exceptional as usual. Rakim, Em, 50, Xzibit, and Gangstarr… How you can you go wrong? You really can't. Best rap soundtrack ever? No, but it deserves some consideration. Solid offering from the Shady camp.