CD Aftermath Entertainment, 493 290-2, 2002, 20 Track
Any lingering doubts as to the depth of Eminem's skills, or his potential for raw-yet-compelling honesty, are dispelled on The Eminem Show
's first track. Armed with a quicksilver flow and a thundering rhythm track (the record was exec-produced by long-time mentor/partner Dr Dre
, "White America" finds Eminem ferociously mauling the hand that feeds him, lambasting his critics, the industry and the racism that, in many ways, helped make Marshall Mathers more than just another rapper. "Let's do the math," Em sneers, "If I was black I would have sold half
.I could be one of your kids/ little Eric looks just like this."
After the bombast of The Marshall Mathers LP and Eminem's well-noted use of sexual epithets, this kind of material is made more controversial because it actually rings true. From a brutal retort to his long-estranged and equally troubled mother ("Cleaning Out My Closets") to a surprisingly tender ode to his child ("Hailie's Song"), Eminem examines his life, loves, arrests, addictions, failures and successes with surprising insight, making this a funk-drenched hip-hop confessional well worth the hype. --Amy Linden