Eminem

Aftermath/Interscope

The Eminem Show ends with 6-year-old Hailie Jade Scott proclaiming, “You’re funny, Daddy!” It’s too bad that the outraged of the world can’t see the outre rapper with his daughter’s clarity. Eminem addresses his detractors at the beginning of his third LP with the slow pound of “White America,” claiming that his lyrics are deemed controversial only because he’s white (“Surely hiphop was never a problem in Harlem, only in Boston/After it bothered the fathers of daughters starting to blossom”). The track escalates to an angry “Fuck you, Ms. Cheney! Fuck you, Tipper Gore! Fuck you with the freest of speech this divided states of embarrassment will allow me to have, fuck you!” then, a second later, a giggle and a gentle “I’m just playin’, America. You know I love you.” The joking tone carries over to the next song, “Business,” with Eminem and guest Dr. Dre (“the most feared duet since me and Elton played career Russian roulette”) opening with a thugs-in-Make Believe skit: “Marshall, sounds like an SOS.” “Holy wack, unlyrical lyrics, Andre, you’re fucking right!” “To the rapmobile!” Not that Slim Shady is the next Weird Al, mind you; he’s still using his art to work out his much-publicized problems with his mother and his wife. “Cleanin Out My Closest” is an especially aching and bitter open letter to Mom set against a background of delicate percussion and faux strings (“Remember when Ronnie died and you said you wished it was me?/Well, guess what, I am dead/Dead to you as can be”), and part of the balladic “Hailie’s Song” is a caustic testament to Eminem’s former devotion to his ex (“I’ve went to jail for this woman, I’ve been to bat for this woman/I’ve taken bats to people’s backs, bent over backwards for this woman”). But Eminem attempts to counterbalance the venom with frequent loving words about his daughter (“the only lady that I adore”) and even a playful but still X-rated duet with her, “My Dad’s Gone Crazy.” And though the remaining tracks, such as the album’s first bouncy single, “Without Me,” and the militant “Till I Collapse” are filled mostly with shameless boasts about Eminem’s celebrity and rap skills, his insidious hooks and ambitious internal rhymes will ensure that each of his songs gets lodged firmly in your head. Love him or hate him, the joke’s on you. —Tricia Olszewski