From his slurs against women and gays to the Osama bin Laden costume he wears in his latest video, Eminem has earned the title of “king of controversy,” as he calls himself on this follow-up to 2000’s smash The Marshall Mathers LP. “They try to shut me down on MTV/But it feels so empty without me,” he boasts on one track, on which he rips Moby, Limp Bizkit and Vice President Cheney’s wife, Lynne. The latter, who has criticized Eminem’s lyrics, is a favorite target, getting an obscenity fired at her on the decidedly unpatriotic “White America.”
Much of the shock value of this stuff has worn off, and Eminem often comes off as defensive and paranoid; complaining about the supermodel types chasing him won’t get much sympathy from his core young male fans. Musically the sinuous, sinister gangsta grooves aren’t as fresh as they once were, but Eminem remains a dynamic rapper whose menacing delivery is chilling at times. His most vulnerable moment, though, comes when he makes his oddly affecting singing debut on “Hailie’s Song,” an ode to his 6-year-old daughter that proves even Eminem can be a softie.
Bottom Line: No Show stopper