In his prime, controversy was Eminem’s secret sauce. As a white rapper with bottle-blonde hair and boy-band seems to be who appreciated to joke about indoctrinating kids with delinquent ideas, Slim Shady was the straw man onto which sq. America projected its most deranged insecurities in regards to the fragility of its youth. He was so good at his job that by the point he dropped Relapse—his 2009 comeback file following years of heavy pharmaceutical use—his most violent bars now simply felt just like the work of an institutionally entrenched artist taking part in the hits. In spite of everything, millennials who’d listened to Eminem’s early data in center faculty had been by then in varied phases of younger maturity, and most of us turned out superb.
In order he entered his second decade of fame, Eminem adopted a brand new identification: an especially well-known, super-intense dude who rapped actually difficult raps. However past this fundamental basis, he grew to become a chimera, his physique of labor an assemblage of typically disparate personas, subject material, and sounds. At occasions, he’s chased tendencies and tried to reinsert himself into the zeitgeist; at others, he’s retreated inwards, reflecting on his legacy or discovering yet one more option to recreate previous selves. That his music lacks perspective or persona past the truth that listeners instantly know that it’s Eminem rapping hasn’t hampered him from turning into the best-selling singles artist of all time, and it definitely hasn’t stored him from persevering with to be a dependable hitmaker. However these qualities make Curtain Name 2, a double-disc compilation of his post-comeback best hits, really feel like a portrait of an artist who’s spent the previous 13 years entering into each route.
Eminem has made some nice music throughout this period—tracks like Revival’s “Offended,” an off-kilter lyrical exercise over a tightly wound Charles Bradley loop; his visitor spot on Nas’ “EPMD 2,” through which he delivers a reverent ode to the golden age of hip-hop; Relapse’s “Deja Vu” which mixes the fearless inventory-taking of 12 Step applications with blistering inner rhymes. There’s in all probability a Spotify playlist on the market that’s scrounged up the most effective of Em’s latter-day catalog and makes use of it to make a case that, regardless of one lackluster album after one other, Eminem continues to be able to reminding us why we used to stan the man who coined the time period “stan.”
However moderately than panning for gold within the mud, Curtain Name 2 contents itself with being a damningly correct reflection of what Eminem’s been as much as recently. He provides us goopy pop songs like “Lighters” and “Nowhere Quick,” and maudlin deconstructions of poisonous relationships like “Love the Method You Lie” and “Headlights.” There are anthems for private uplift and/or weightlifting (“Not Afraid,” “Cinderella Man,” and “Phenomenal”) and the Rick Rubin and DJ Khalil-enabled dalliances with rap-rock (“Berzerk,” “Received’t Again Down”). It’s topped off with a tune about killing individuals (“3 a.m.”) and one about how powerful it’s to be Eminem (“Stroll on Water”), with some r/hiphopheads-baiting quick rap (“Rap God,” “Godzilla”) thrown in for good measure. Listening to 34 tracks of these things in a row—particularly contemplating that Eminem was one of many final main rappers to chop overtly homophobic language out of his rhyme e-book—is a grim expertise. By the point Ed Sheeran exhibits up on Disc 2, his vocals really feel just like the candy launch of dying.