The Filth And The Fury

Eminem spews more bile at his fans. Everybody throw up and get down!

It's always frustrating to watch an artist with top-shelf talent reach that inadvertently satiated moment when there's really nothing important to say, nothing to add. It may be that Eminem is perfecting his formal chops for later, more personal work. Certainly there is a great deal on Encore that on technical terms can stand up to the best anyone's doing now. Check out how he turns the incredibly familiar first 10 seconds of Heart's "Crazy on You" into the lodestar of a meditation on dysfunctional sex that feels like a nicotine-induced panic attack--all planted on the foundation of the Wilson sisters' opening banshee wail. The fanciness of the footwork is dazzling, but how many upchuck sound cues and Nick Lachey jokes can you take?

Honey, I'm home: Eminem returns for his punishing fourth album
Anthony Mandler
Honey, I'm home: Eminem returns for his punishing fourth album

It may be that Eminem is misreading his own process. He thinks his murderous anger at his mom and his ex-wife were the fuel that made the early work go. But it was his choice to do something black hip-hop artists feel they can't dare in the same way--that is, make himself the world's jester--that closed the deal for his mass audience. We love Eminem because he can so deftly mock himself as well as mock (or mock-murder) others. His masterstroke was bringing the comic into a punishingly self-serious form. Next time, he needs to lean into the mirth and lay off the Roman showers.

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