Has Eminem just lost it, or has he simply run out of ideas? Either way, Eminem's highly anticipated release, "Encore", is his worst album to date. With a combination of bland production, horrendous hooks and gimmicky concepts, "Encore" is a strange album that finds a confused Eminem. One moment Em sticks to his guns and produces his usual assortment of lyrically brilliant songs, while the next minute, he is consumed with producing childish and immature pop songs that will have every Hip Hop fan scratching his head. It is this fight between Em's Hip Hop and pop side that ultimately divides the album, making for one of the most disappointing albums of the year.
"Encore" starts on the right foot with an assortment of solid tracks. "Evil Deeds" finds Em riding Dr. Dre's dark and haunting beat perfectly, as he switches up his masterful flow at the drop of a dime. Em addresses his usual assortment of issues, ranging from his "complicated" childhood, to his icon pop status. "Never Enough" continues the heat, as 50 Cent tears Dre's beat to shred with one of his best verses in recent memory. "If I'm the best and the worst, than god's gift is a curse. Soldier trained to destroy, you paying attention boy? I spit shit, slick shit, so quick you miss shit.
To be specific I go ballistic it's hieroglyphic". Nate Dogg also drops by to deliver an infectious hook, adding even more flavor to a dope track.
"Yellow Brick Road" finds Em addressing the infamous "racist" tape released last year, as Marshall apologizes for his actions. "I've heard people say they heard the tape, and it ain't that bad. But it was, I singled out a whole race, and for that I apologize, I was wrong". Even though Em's plotting, George Clinton sampled beat tinkers on annoying; his truthfulness allows "Yellow Brick Road" to be successful. Similarly, Eminem opens himself on "Like Toy Soldiers" by delving into the ongoing beef between Shady Records and Murda Inc/Benzino. Over a mixture of a beautiful vocal sample, lush keys and drum rolls, Em acts as the bigger man and attempts to squash all the beef. "I ain't tryin to have none of people hurt or murdered, it ain't worth it, I can't think of a perfecter way to word it…But don't get it twisted, it's not a plea that I'm copping, I'm just willing to be the bigger man if y'all can quit popping, off at your jaws well then I can, cause frankly I'm sick of talking. I'm not gonna let someone else's coffin rest on my conscience".
"Mosh" is yet another controversial song from Em, as he announces his displeasure with the Bush administration and their "war against terror". Dr. Dre and Mark Batson's dark keys and heavy guitar riffs add for a chilling vibe, while Em lets Bush have it in his standout third verse. "Let the President answer a higher anarchy, Strap him with an AK-47, let him go fight his own war, let him impress daddy that way.
No more blood for oil, we got our own battles".
After listening to the first five songs on "Encore", you would think Em is on his way to another amazing album. However, the six songs following "Mosh" can only be classified as disastrous. It is hard to envision Em making such horrific songs; however, that is exactly what happened. Whether it was due to a lack of motivation, or he simply ran out of concepts, tracks seven through fourteen may very well be the worst stretch of songs ever put together by a reputable artist.
This downward spiral all starts with "Puke", which acts as another tale in the long and over drawn saga between Em and Kim. Em's horrific singsong hook and uninspired production, which samples Queen's "We Will Rock You", are both enough to ruin Em's pointless rant. Things do not get any better on "My 1st Single", where Em ruins one of his catchier beats by babbling about a Christopher Reeves, homosexuality, pooping, farting and belching. However, the immature, nonsensical rhymes from Em do not stop there, as they get even worse on "Big Weenie", "Rain Man", "Just Loose It" and "Ass Like That". On "Rain Man", Em once again brings up his obsession with Christopher Reeves by spending an entire verse talking about "how he killed superman". (Not literally, of course)
"Just Loose It" continues the childish antics, as Dr. Dre & Mike Elizondo's atrocious keyboard production just adds to the disaster that Em builds with this song. Along with Pee Wee Herman shouting, Michael Jackson references and the occasional farting, Em manages to produce one of the shallowest Hip Hop songs of the year. The same can also be said for "Ass Like That", where Em continues to embarrass himself by rapping the entire song in the voice of Triumph The Insult Comic Dog. However, even worse is the track's hook, as Em conjures up such brilliant lines like, "The way you move it, you make my pee-pee go, D-DOING DOING DOING". But if all of those songs were not enough to convince you that Em went off the deep end for six straight songs, then "Big Weenie" will surely convince you. Over Dre's simple drums, Em quite possibly provides one of the worst hooks Hip Hop has ever seen. "You are just jealous of me cause you, you just can't do what I do. So instead of just admitting it, you walk around and say, all kinds of really mean things about me, cause you're a meanie, a meani".
Thankfully, Em's embarrassing run of shallow and childish songs ends there, leaving the last half of the album. However, the final six tracks are not enough to make up for all the miscues Em fired off on "Encore". "One Shot 2 Shot" featuring D-12 is another average collaboration, picking up where "D-12 World" left off. "Crazy In Love", while complete with a fitting vocal sample, is yet another love/hate track about Kim, which is a topic that has been beat over the head for the last four albums.
However, there are a couple of satisfying attempts as the album closes out. "Spend Some Time" featuring Obie Trice, 50 Cent & Stat Quo acts as a sequel to "Love Me", which was featured on the 8 Mile Soundtrack. "Mockingbird" is a heartfelt song dedicated to his daughter Halie, that features a serenading piano loop and light drum kicks. The title track "Encore" closes the album out right by throwing Dr. Dre in the limelight and announcing that they will force Dre to make "Detox". Dre's production stands out more than anything else, as his usual assortment of hard-hitting drums, guitar riffs and dark keys take full effect.
In the end, "Encore" has its share of highlights, but even those cannot overcome the middle part of the album, which can only be describe as a train wreck. It's a shame that Em went off on such an immature and senseless tirade of corny pop songs, because "Encore" had the potential to be a very solid album. While this album certainly won't hurt Em's career, it has damaged his street credibility, something that was strong during "The Marshall Mathers LP" and "The Eminem Show". Let's hope next time Em leaves the gimmicks alone and just sticks to rapping.