http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/c5205fd08c96ef208772a577711dd88f8d3f2bae.jpg Encore



Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
December 9, 2004

Supposedly, the mainstream is where you go under and "maturity" means one foot in the grave. So the success of 8 Mile and its single "Lose Yourself" put Eminem in a bind. How and whether he'd come through was impossible to say, and the opening sallies from Encore were inconclusive. Would the dance-music dis "Just Lose It" lead us to an album as retrograde as its MJ-mocking video? Or was that a feint designed to double the wallop of "Mosh," which signaled a Marshall Mathers gone political — too late to help his candidate, but, be real, the Muse doesn't follow a schedule.

The answer, self-evident in retrospect, is none of the above. Encore isn't as astonishing as The Marshall Mathers LP. Few albums by anyone ever will be. But in the time-honored manner of mature work, it showcases a phenomenally gifted musician and lyricist doing all the things he does best. Sometimes there are new twists, sometimes not, but that's not decisive, because the music never feels old. Crucially, Encore is funnier than The Eminem Show, avoiding the Rock Star Agonistes posturing he seemed to be slipping into. Sure it's really mature, as when the Martika-sampling "Like Toy Soldiers" renounces battle rhyming and its deadly consequences, or "Yellow Brick Road" apologizes straightforwardly ("I was wrong," to be precise) for using the word nigger on a basement tape half a lifetime ago. But how many competing thirty-two-year-olds can still milk laughs and beats from belches, farts, vomiting and diarrhea?

A conceptual leap would have been nice: Now more than ever, pop needs new leaders. But in a genre forever suspected of running out of ideas, new tricks ain't nothing. There are fresh vocal cadences — here even faster, there more staccato, and does he know that parts of "Yellow Brick Road" recall the Randy Newman of "I Love L.A."? If the keyboard chord that shores up Martika is corny, the snare drum is dead obvious and right-on. The complex rhymes get seriously decentered: "money"/"the tree," for instance, or "birthday"/"first place." The absurdist "Rain Man" mocks homophobia. Most impressive of all, here's how the Heart-not-Beyonce-sampling "Crazy in Love" describes his inescapable Kim: "You are the ink to my paper/What my pen is to my pad/The moral, the very fiber, the whole substance of my rap."

Get over her, you want to say. You're thirty-two. But can you even imagine an Eminem song using such language — much less meaning it, and making it sing?

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories


    Nelly Furtado with Timbaland | 2006

    This club-oriented single featuring Timbaland, who produced Nelly Furtado's third album, Loose, was Furtado’s sexy return after the Canadian singer's exploration of her Portuguese heritage on Folklore. "In the studio, initially I didn’t know if I could do it, 'cause Timbaland wrote that chorus," Furtado said. "I'm like, 'That's cool, but I don't know if I'm ready to do full-out club.'" The flirty lyrics are a dance between a guy and girl, each knowing they will end up in bed together but still playing the game. "Tim and I called it 'The BlackBerry Song,' she said, "because everything we say in the song you could text-message to somebody."

    More Song Stories entries »