Curtain call

By By Sarah Janel Jackson

By Sarah Janel Jackson

EncoreEminemAftermath RecordsTwo and a half out of five starsSarah Janel JacksonStaff WriterA follow-up to 2002’s Grammywinner The Eminem Show and thefirst album released since Eminemclinched an Oscar for “Lose Yourself”from the “8 Mile” soundtrack,Encore was hyped to showcase anever controversial, more maturerap artist.Unfortunately, the hype forEncore turns out to be just that:more hype. As a full album, Encoredoesn’t compare to any of Mr.Shady’s other LPs.The 23 tracks of Encore (if youcount the three on an includedbonus disc) are a massive mess ofEminem’s confused personal identity.Only one-third of the songs areworth listening to, or were at allreminiscent of the misunderstood,angry hip-hop geniusto which fansand critics alikehave grown to payattention. What’scontroversial abouttracks like “Mosh,””Like Toy Soldiers”and “Mockingbird?”They’re not racist,sexist, brutish,homophobic, orany of the other negative aspectsfor which Eminem has become f a -mous.What’s stirring on the betterhalves of Encore presents an Eminemwho has genuine concern forhumanity and not just himself.Yet audiences are supposed tobelieve that Marshall’s a changedman.Unfortunately, somebody cheatedhis way through a bar mitzvahor two-Eminem’s newfound respectfor something, perhaps hisown art, doesn’t hold out long.The other two-thirds of the albumis at best mediocre with rehashedbeats, tiredhooks and incrediblyunexceptionallyrics. At its worst,it is absolutely terrible.Any sense ofEminem’s supposedmaturity iscompletely disregardedand discreditedwith tracks like”Big Weenie,” “My1st Single” and “Ass Like That.”The repertoire of fart jokes, misogynyand mocking celebrities(including Christopher Reeve) re -minds us why so many people havedespised Eminem.Somewhere out there exists afine line between taking the FirstAmendment for granted, andshamelessly wasting the ability tospeak freely. It’s since been boldedand italicized.The often childish and meaninglesslyrics (since when does Emsay “crunk?” Couldn’t a 3-year-oldrhyme “meanie” with “weenie?”)made it difficult to remember atime when Eminem’s ability wasrespected as a talent-and not anovelty act.It could be that Eminem is simplymaking a statement: He can dowhatever he wants and people willstill buy his album.Shady himself adequately sumsup Encore’s overall theme in thesong “Rain Man,” singing “I don’teven gotta make no (expletive)sense, I just did a whole song and Ididn’t say (expletive).”Ultimately, the despisers of Eminemare left with fuel for the fire,his true-blue fans are left with adwindling career once marked byrelevant controversy.In the meantime, the rest of usare left to return to the originalskepticism he once faced nearly adecade ago: wondering whether ornot Eminem will be remembered asa legitimate hip-hop artist, or justsome silly white kid from Detroitwho figured out how to exploitthe system, record companies, andfans better than anyone [email protected]