Aftermath/UMG – 2002 – 76 minutes

'The Eminem Show', which was bootlegged so heavily that his record company moved the release date forward, sees the Detroit phenomenon's bile and anger turning inward, as Eminem strips his personal life bare for the benefit of his fans.

Eminem's lyrics are never short of caustic. He sums up the story of his success on the musically inept, but verbally cutting 'White America' – "Lets do the math, if I was black, I would have sold half". He attacks many foes on 'Without Me': Limp Bizkit are "little bastards", Moby a "36-year old baldheaded faggot", rapper Can-I-Bus is "Canibitch". The parents of his fans are singled out for taunting and abuse on pretty much every song.

Still, there's nothing on The Eminem Show with the dramatic brilliance of 'Stan' or the edginess of 'Guilty Conscience'. Instead, Eminem's tirades against his ex-girlfriend and his over-knowing analysis of the music industry seem self-centred and tedious.

The man's superstar status has created a lyrical conundrum. To his credit, he has refused to pretend to live some invented gangster streetlife, but the rappings of success and notoriety are sterile inspirations for hip-hop wordplay.

Eminem is credited with the lion's share of the productions on the album, and most are simply ersatz-Dre, lifting his mentor's style without its lightness of touch or musical dexterity. 'Hailie's Song', his love ode to his young daughter is an attempt at passion and emotional depth, but ends up sounds like the hideous descendant of an 1980s power ballad. Ugh.

2FM's veteran DJ Larry Gogan recently expressed unhappiness with Eminem's increasingly commercial direction. Listen up Marshall Mathers, even ole' Golden Tonsils thinks you're losing it!

Luke McManus

Tracklisting: Curtains Up (Skit) - White America – Business - Cleaning Out My Closet - Square Dance - The Kiss (Skit) – Soldier - Say Goodbye Hollywood – Drips - Without Me - Paul Rosenberg (Skit) - Sing For The Moment – Superman - Hailie's Song - When The Music Stops - Steve Berman (Skit) - Say What You Say - 'Till I Collapse - My Dad's Gone Crazy - Curtains Close (Skit)