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Oh, how the mighty fall.,
This review is from: Encore (Audio CD)
When you're one of the greatest rapping talents of all time, producing brilliant album after brilliant album, it gets harder and harder to impress, to maintain your usual standards or even push them higher as you have before. Encore, Eminem's comeback album after a two-year absence and a prolific 2002, had a great deal of expectation thrust upon, partly because of his previous high standards and partly because of his time off. Eminem, for one reason or another, was not up to the task.
Encore feels in so many ways like a reaction to his previous peak, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) and its follow up, The Eminem Show (2002). Whereas those two albums showed him reaching artistic maturity, Encore finds him revelling in the immature toilet humour that punctuated debut album The Slim Shady LP. Where his last album saw Eminem's production reach new heights as far as complexity, texture and originality, Encore is an album made of skeletal beats and piano, a very dry production throughout. And where his previous albums were bursting with wit and originality, Encore is predominantly medicore and devoid of ideas.
There's a long way to fall from genius, but Encore is far worse than we've come to expect even from Eminem at his worst. It's not all bad; the sample from the song of the same name on 'Like Toy Soldiers' is used to the full (check out its video to see a worryingly prescient storyline involving D12 member Proof); 'Crazy In Love' uses a similar sample from Heart, but its chipmunk-speed is a depressing rip off of Kanye West's treademark; both 'Just Lose It' and 'Ass Like That' are hilarious, and even if the former is somewhat of a retread of the funnier 'Without Me,' the latter features one of his greatest insults to date - 'Britney Spears has shoulders like a man.'
Unfortunately, the majority of the album is mediocre, below par, or simply bad. 'Mosh,' despite its often thrilling political rhymes, is a shameless rehash of the brilliant 'White America,' right down the melody being hummed at the end. 'My 1st Single' is his most immature song to date, punctuated by actual gas emissions from several orifices; and unlike on his first album, here it has none of the wit or guilty enjoyment. Meanwhile, the inclusion of 50 Cent anywhere on the album is a check against it thanks to his incoherent, worthless rhymes.
All in all, this is far worse than anything we could have expected Eminem to produce, even at his worst. Being his last studio album to date, aside from his Greatest Hits it more or less acts as his career's epitaph. Let's hope that elusive fifth album will let him sign off on a better note.