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Encore finds Marshall Mathers at something of a crossroads in his career. 31-years-old, rich and successful -he's played the belligerent poor white trash outsider for five years now. Kicking back in his big executive Shady Records chair, you've got to wonder if he's still got the stomach to become Eminem.
Having cleared out the closet of his private life, what does the man whos given us five years of rants against his mother and his ex-wife (not to mention 8 Mile) have left to say about his favorite subject: himself?
The result, ultimately, is not a lot. Encore starts fantastically but ends abominably. Actually, it's worse than that.Twothirdsof this record could be Weird Al Yankovic, such is its woefulness.
This is particularly frustrating when opener "Evil Deeds" suggests it could have been his In Utero - "The shows over, you can all go home now", he spits wearily, "but the curtain don't close for me".
Sidestepping the soap opera of his personal life, this is Eminem at his most thrilling -holding his outsider status up to the light while untangling the bullshit world of corporate hip-hop. "Like Toy Soldiers" is a cutting indictment on the machismo world of the beef (against a giddily addictive Martika sample) and "Mosh" directs some well-aimed anger at the current US administration.
But, from that moment on, he bottles it. To the sound of retching and a flushing toilet we're straight into "Puke". It's an appropriate metaphor for an album that degenerates into nothing more than an extended fart joke.
The lowpoints? There's too many to mention - although the desperate misogyny of "Spend Some Time" should probably be singled out. That's saying something on a track listing that includes "Big Weenie" and "Ass Like That"; this is bottom feeder stuff.
The woeful D-12 appear , Anthill Mob-like, at the end to pop a few caps, but by then it's too late. Encore is an album for the downloaders -afew great songs tacked onto an hour of dicking about.