Eminem, Slim Shady, Marshall, whatever you want to call him has been stirring up controversy since 1999. Whether you love him or hate him, you have to realize music wouldn’t be the same without him. His 2000 release is probably his most popular and best selling album to date. It has some of his best known hits along with some his most controversial lyrics. This is a classic album and proves that Em has something to say.
Every song here is a hit. They’re filled with the rapper’s passion, hatred, humor and wit. There’s something catchy about each one of the songs, whether it’s the beat, the way he’s rapping, or the hook. The songs also show how talented Mr. Mathers is at rhyming. Some of the rhymes will floor you because he seems to pull them out of nowhere and makes a rhyme out of words you wouldn’t even consider. Whether it’s the violent and aggressive track “Kill You” or the drug infused beat of “Remember Me” the songs are sure to grab your attention. While they’re all great there are a few that stand out from the others.
The hit single “Stan” is a heavy, dark song. It begins with Dido’s sweet and somber voice singing against a rainstorm. Her bittersweet lyrics and the low bass riff really sets the sad tone for the song. We then get introduce to Stan, the ultimate Eminem fan. What’s great about this song is that you completely forget that Eminem is playing the role of Stan. He gets so into the character it actually feel like we’re listening to Stan’s thoughts not Eminem rapping. Also, the sound effects used for each setting is a nice touch: the scribbling during Stan’s writing and the windshield wipers as he’s driving. It’s a really disturbing song, especially the first time you hear it since you don’t know where it’s going next. It’s the most powerful song on the album and definitely one of Eminem’s best.
The other infamous song from this record has to be “Kim.” If you know nothing else about this rapper you at least know he recorded a song where he kills his wife. Again, this is another disturbing and dark song. At times it can make you uncomfortable with how he talks to “her” and the sound of him dragging her lifeless body at the end is really unnerving. You can hear his anger, frustration, hurt, and hatred in this song, as if she was having an argument with him in the studio. Despite it’s disturbing content, it’s a heartbreaking song. You kind of feel for him when you hear his voice on the verge of tears. It makes you realize he wanted to make the relationship work with this woman, but for one reason or another it just wasn’t meant to be.
Besides these cheery gems, classic songs like “The Way I Am” and “The Real Slim Shady” are found here. The former song is pretty dark, with it’s dooming toll bells ringing throughout the track. This is another song where you can really feel Em’s anger. He comments about his several controversies and downsides to fame. The latter is much more fun, with a playful, funky piano riff and funny lyrics. It’s a fun song that shows off Eminem’s wit. Who doesn’t love singing along with “will the real slim shady please stand up?”
There are several themes at work on this album: fame, critics, drug abuse and family issues. Every single song alludes to one of these topics. Songs like “Who Knew,” “I’m Back” and “Criminal” respond to the backlash and criticism he received from the press for being too lewd and explicit. In all these songs he’s basically saying he doesn’t understand why people take his lyrics so seriously. He makes a great point in “Who Knew” when he mentions “Who’d thought Slim Shady would be something you woulda bought/that woulda made you get a gun and shoot at the cops/I just said it, I ain’t know if you’d do it or not.” In other words, don’t blame me if your kid does something dumb and cites me as inspiration.
Em gets personal on the tracks “Marshall Mathers,” and “Drug Ballad,” where he talks more about his drug use, his neglectful mother and unknown father. “Marshall Mathers” is one of the darkest songs on the album. The music is really grim and somber. It even has a creepy tone at times. He mentions the lawsuit his mom file against him and how everyone wants to hound him due to his recent fame. There’s also a gruesome image of him walking a decapitated rottweiler. He also mocks the hook from the LFO hit “Summer Girls,” which is really delightful. The latter song is pretty upbeat and recounts the consequences of extreme drug usage, but he is never regretful in the track.
The only bad thing about this album are the number of skits and interludes here. The album even opens with an intro called “Public Service Announcement.” Sometimes these skits can be funny, but most of the time they’re confusing. They’re completely unnecessary and make the album longer than it needs to be. I think the point of them was to show how the record company thought the album was unsellable due to it’s content. There are several skits where the rapper is meeting with his record company and they mention how they can’t release the record. That’s all well and good, but we get this information through the songs themselves, so we don’t need it repeated again.
Overall, the album gets 9/10. It’s one of Eminem’s best if not his greatest album ever. The songs here are memorable and are sure to shock you, unnerve you and make you laugh. Yes, he says some controversial things here, but if you’re listening correctly, you’ll realize he’s not being altogether serious. This album is great because it allows the audience to learn more about his personal life, but in an entertaining manner. This is an album that makes you pay attention to the rapper and see that he has more to say than “step off, bitch.”