With his debut album, The Slim Shady LP, Eminem (a.k.a. Slim Shady, a.k.a. Marshall Mathers), has created the music equivalent of an episode of “The Jerry Springer Show.” It’s funny, disturbing and sounds like a car crash – you can’t help listening. But by the end of the album, the sound becomes tired and stale.
Slim tries to be the spokesperson for disgruntled men everywhere. With his whiny Midwestern delivery, he raps about his lack of success with just about everything, including women and jobs. He’s bitter, angry and wants you to know it. It is this attitude that gives many of the songs a humorous slant. Slim uses a low-brow type of humor, so the first time you hear it, you cannot avoid laughing.
The song “My Name Is,” which has already been overplayed on the radio, is a three-minute rant about everything that is wrong with Slim’s life. The way he describes his failures is hysterical initially, but after a while it gets old. This sequence characterizes most of the songs on Slim’s latest album – they start out funny but quickly become hackneyed ideas set to bland sounds. With this release, Slim becomes the Weird Al of gangster rap.
The funniest and best track is “Guilty Conscience.” In a duet with Dr. Dre, who also produced most of the album, Slim tells stories of people caught in situations where conscience comes into play. Slim supplies the evil side and Dr. Dre surprisingly provides the good, moral advice. In the songs, the two opposing voices help people decide whether to rob a convenience store, have sex with a 15-year-old and kill a cheating lover.
The highlight of “Guilty Conscience” is when Slim makes fun of Dr. Dre – “Dr. Dre, Mr. AK, Mr. Straight Out of Compton” – for advocating the better path. The song offers a clever approach that elevates it above the other songs on the album, which only offer low-brow humor.
On the album, Slim reveals another facet of himself. Previously, he has been criticized for his violent and graphic lyrics that rival those of Nick Cave. Much of it is cartoonish violence, the audio equivalent of an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon. However, sometimes it gets to be too much. For example, in “Bonnie and Clyde ’99,” Slim describes how he keeps custody of his child by killing the mother.
Slim’s latest release falters because it can’t hold your attention. The Slim Shady LP entertains for the first few times you hear it, but doesn’t stand up for the long haul.