Eminem’s Encore (Shady/Interscope) is an album that I want to hate but can’t. Songs like “Evil Deeds,” “Yellow Brick Road” and “Like Toy Soldiers” stand as some of the best pissed off biographic tracks of his career. Unfortunately, the album sinks into juvenile humor and fart jokes.
But even on songs like “Puke” and “My 1st Single,” where the immature level reaches an all time high, the delivery of the rhymes is so original and done with a sense of humor that it’s hard to dislike. The 13 year old boy in me finds this material hilarious while the adult wants to hate it passionately. The pinnacle of stupidity is reached on “Ass Like That.” His Triumph the Insult Comic Dog delivery isn’t strong enough to carry a whole song. It seems like Eminem just doesn’t respect his audience anymore. It sounds like he’s just throwing out the most ridiculous rhymes ever because he knows it’ll still be multi-platinum. This album’s ode to Hailey is the remarkable “Mockingbird,” which gives some of the history of Em and Kim’s bizarre relationship. This theme continues in “Crazy in Love.” Eminem acknowledges that without Kim he wouldn’t be where he is. What is strange is that while being completely immature on some songs, others show a new maturity. On “Yellow Brick Road,” he accepts the responsibility of the tape that surfaced last year that contains racist comments that he recorded as a teen. He also seeks to end the beef with Ja Rule and The Source owner Ray Benzino on “Like Toy Soldiers.” Ultimately, while not as impressive as The Slim Shady LP or The Marshal Mathers LP, Encore still displays the ease at which Eminem spits rhymes. While not the best in his controversial career, it’s still a jewel in the rap king’s crown.