Album: Encore

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Album:

Encore

Artist: Eminem
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Genres:
Label: Aftermath

Eminem’s fourth album offers few surprises, but still enough pleasures to carry the day. As evinced by Em’s pre-election, pro-voting “Mosh,” this is not exactly the same Eminem who seemingly crapped on anything and everything. Encore finds a surprisingly mature Eminem waxing reflective about his battle with Benzino (“Like Toy Soldiers”) rather than unloading both barrels. However, it’s not all elder statesmanship: “Puke” goes after his ex-wife Kim with incredible scorn, and “Big Weenie” brings the familiar juvenile humor that made him famous. If…

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Eminem’s fourth album offers few surprises, but still enough pleasures to carry the day. As evinced by Em’s pre-election, pro-voting “Mosh,” this is not exactly the same Eminem who seemingly crapped on anything and everything. Encore finds a surprisingly mature Eminem waxing reflective about his battle with Benzino (“Like Toy Soldiers”) rather than unloading both barrels. However, it’s not all elder statesmanship: “Puke” goes after his ex-wife Kim with incredible scorn, and “Big Weenie” brings the familiar juvenile humor that made him famous. If Encore has a clear weakness, it’s the bland production—the same plodding sound that he and Dr. Dre cooked up on the previous three albums. The exotic flavor of “Ass Like That” catches the ear, but many others run off the same monotonous minor-key melodies and tempos. Of course, people buy Eminem albums to hear him spit first and foremost, and, in that regard, few fans will be disappointed by Encore; it’d just be nice to see him switch up his sound at some point. —Oliver Wang

Marshall Mathers has always delighted in confounding expectations, so we should have guessed he’d respond to the title Most Important Artist Of His Generation with Encore – an album peppered with puerile humour, myriad references to his past career, and plenty of farts, burps and vomiting. Thankfully, even Slim Shady on a bad day can be a fairly mighty proposition: the seething “Mosh” is a rare moment of high seriousness—a trudging anti-Bush epic in the vein of “White America” that positively vibrates with bile – while the skittery “My 1st Single” proves that Mathers can be engaging even when he’s rapping about basically nothing.

The key to understanding Encore is through its pursuit of sheer offensiveness for offence’s sake, be it the comic accent on “Ass Like That”, or the relentless gay jibes of “Rain Man” – all of which seem to be more about prodding the hornet’s nest of controversy that any genuine prejudice. Still, it’s occasionally hard to escape that there’s a certain weariness to Em’s delivery, an impression that sometimes extends to the arrangements – see “Like Toy Soldiers”, a jaundiced account of rap feuding, rendered unnecessarily corny by a sample of “Toy Soldiers” by ‘80s two-hit wonder Martika. —Louis Pattison

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