|First posted 3/12/2008; updated 12/23/2020.|
The Eminem Show
Released: May 26, 2002
Peak: 16 US, 16 RB, 15 UK, 19 CN, 17 AU
Sales (in millions): 10.3 US, 1.2 UK, 27.0 world (includes US and UK)
Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 77:28
3.864 out of 5.00 (average of 26 ratings)
Quotable: “Essentially a holding pattern, but it’s a glorious one – one that proves Eminem is the gold standard in pop music in 2002.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
“It’s all about the title. First time around, Eminem established his alter ego, Slim Shady – the character who deliberately shocked and offended millions, turning Eminem into a star. Second time at bat, he turned out The Marshall Mathers LP, delving deeper into his past while revealing complexity as an artist and a personality that helped bring him an even greater audience and much, much more controversy. Third time around, it’s The Eminem Show – a title that signals that Eminem’s public persona is front and center, for the very first time.” AMG Q magazine said the first two albums “aired dirty laundy, then the world’s most celebrated rapper examined life in the hall of mirrors he’d built for himself.” WK
The album’s title was inspired by the film The Truman Show. Jim Carrey portrayed Truman Burbank, a man who unknowingly lives within a television show. Eminem said, “My life felt like it was becoming a circus around that time, and I felt like I was always being watched.” WK Cleanin’ Out My Closet, the second song he wrote for the album, includes the line “I’d like to welcome y’all to The Eminem Show.” WK The album consequently keyed in on “the psychic toll of being America’s biggest pop star and – according to scolds on both ends of the political spectrum – number one moral menace.” RS’11
He addresses very public incidents, such as “the furor over his alleged homophobia and his scolding from Lynne Cheney, which leads to furious criticism about the hypocrisy of America and its government.” AMG He also treads familiar ground, such as his love for his daughter, Hailie, and his troubled relationships with his parents and his ex-wife, Kim.
USA Today’s Edna Gundersen accused Eminem as “hoisting The Eminem Show to a level of self-absorption rivaled only by Woody Allen.” WK She noted that he “displays an admirable dexterity in blending invective and invention, even though his approach is more reactionary than revolutionary.” WK
“The rhymes were as densely packed and virtuosic as ever (‘When I speak, it’s tongue in cheek/I’d yank my fuckin’ teeth before I’d ever bite my tongue’), but they were also poignantly confessional; the beats largely jettisoned perky hip-hop to embrace the power chords and grandeur of Seventies rock.” RS’11 “All this is married to a production very similar to that of its predecessor – spare, funky, fluid, and vibrant, punctuated with a couple of ballads along the way. So, that means The Eminem Show is essentially a holding pattern, but it’s a glorious one – one that proves Eminem is the gold standard in pop music in 2002, delivering stylish, catchy, dense, funny, political music that rarely panders (apart from a power ballad ‘Dream On’ rewrite on Sing for the Moment and maybe the sex rap Drips, that is).” AMG
“Even if there is little new ground broken, the presentation is exceptional – Dre never sounds better as a producer than when Eminem pushes him forward (witness the stunning oddity Square Dance, a left-field classic with an ominous waltz beat) and, with three albums under his belt, Eminem has proven himself to be one of the all-time classic MCs, surprising as much with his delivery as with what he says.” AMG
“Perhaps the album runs a little too long at 20 songs and 80 minutes and would have flowed better if trimmed by 25 minutes, but that’s a typical complaint about modern hip-hop records. Fact is, it still delivers more great music than most of its peers in rock or rap, and is further proof that Eminem is an artist of considerable range and dimension.” AMG
Complex magazine said the album “cemented Eminem’s place as one of the most important figures in rap history.” WK NME’s Alex Needham said The Eminem Show “is bigger, bolder and far more consistent than its predecessors” WK while Entertainment Weekly’s David Browne called it “a testament to the skills of its star.” WK Rolling Stone’s Kris Ex went so far as to say Eminem “may have made the best rap rock album in history.” WK
The album is Eminem’s best-seller and is the second best-seller of the 21st century, tied with Norah Jones’ Come Away with Me and only behind Adele’s 21. It was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year and won for Rap Album of the Year (his third such award). Without Me won the Grammy for Best Music Video and MTV’s Video of the Year award.
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