Thursday, May 26, 2022, marked the 20th anniversary of what many Eminem fans would say is Eminem’s best album, one that marked him as an artist rather than just a rapper.
“To me, ‘The Eminem Show’ is the album that solidified Eminem’s status as one of the GOATs,” said Girish Hari, third-year CS student when asked his thoughts on “The Eminem Show.”
The album revealed more sides to Eminem’s talent.
“I feel like, before, we heard just a lot of anger, and here in ‘The Eminem Show,’ you see a softer side of him,” said Ethan Damiani, third-year BCHM.
According the Damiani, many know Eminem as “the angry rapper,” a rapper who “redirects some extremely passionate emotions of anger towards music expression. He does a good job of explaining the extreme emotions that we can feel at times and personifying them.”
“The Eminem Show” marks history for Eminem fans, not because it is the first time he expresses anger in his writing, or the first time he uses narratives to do so in a concept album, but because it is the first time that he shows a softer side to himself. “The man behind the anger,” so to speak, Marshall Mathers.
The album opens in a classic Eminem fashion, with a skit. Recorded applause accompanied by heavy footsteps on a stage, followed by the tapping of a microphone, make up the first track of the record. Then with a smooth transition right into his first song, “White America,” the album truly begins.
He proceeds to start his album with a satirical piece pointing out the irony of the time. The release of this album was during the “War on Terror” campaign in America, following the 9/11 attacks, a time when patriotism was incredibly high. Eminem points out the hypocrisy that everyone loved America for its freedom of speech, while he and other artists were being censored and targeted for trying to speak freely.
Later in the album is his incredibly controversial song “Cleanin’ Out My Closet.” This piece follows Marshall as he airs out all the troubles his mother brought him through his life. He especially digs deep in the third verse of the song, as Marshall gets angrier as he brings up more disturbing things that his mother did.
“Remember when Ronnie died and you said you wished it was me?” he raps, his voice growing to a yell.
This song was one of the first times that Marshall shows why he is so angry in his music, marking it as one of the most important songs on the album.
Of course, no one can write about “The Eminem Show” without mentioning one of Eminem’s most popular songs of all time, “Without Me.” This track, featuring some tantalizing saxophone riffs throughout, is an upbeat song that repeats how “it feels so empty without me!” Eminem goes on to say how he is the “king of controversy” and proceeds to compare himself to Elvis Presley. A fan favorite, reaching over a billion streams on Spotify, it was Eminem’s first singles to receive a Grammy nomination in a major category.
On “Hailie’s Song,” Marshall shows off his singing voice, starting off by stating, “I can’t sing, but I feel like singing. […] I’m happy, I got my baby back.” He sings about how relieved he is to finally have custody of his daughter.
“Hailie’s Song” is a beautiful ode to his daughter where you can see a side of Marshall you don’t usually see, the loving father.
There are many touching lines in this song such as, “I love my daughter more than life in itself,” and “Sometimes it feels like the world’s almost over, but then she comes back to me.” It is a truly touching song that shows the human side of Eminem.
Another fan favorite, “‘Till I Collapse,” comes near the end of the album. This motivational song opens with Eminem talking, “Sometimes you just feel tired, feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up. But you gotta search within you, […] get that motivation to not give up, […] no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.”
Eminem goes on to perform this piece, featuring Nate Dogg.
It is about how no matter how hard it gets, he will keep working, keep rapping and keep going despite the obstacles.
This is a sentiment that any Tech student could use, to keep going even though they are tired, even though they want to give up, to keep going.
The album proceeds to end with the sounds of curtains closing, and one of Eminem’s characters, Ken Keniff, rapping a parody of “Without Me,’’ showing how Eminem does not take himself too seriously.
A fitting close to another controversial album by Eminem.