Interscope - 2002 - 65 minutes

Eminem haters look away. With his starring performance in Curtis Hanson's '8 Mile' getting positive reviews and 'The Eminem Show' album the top-selling US release of 2002, the stock of the Detroit-born rapper has scarcely been higher.

Or has it? After the incendiary 'Slim Shady' and 'Marshall Mathers' albums, 'The Eminem Show' came as a real disappointment. It appeared that Eminem might have lost his way with words. His lyrical skills had been reduced to bitter navel-gazing, while the weak backing tracks made his move into production seem wrong-headed and egotistical.

The 8 Mile OST might suffer from the typical flaws of a hip-hop movie soundtrack - too many musical passengers resulting in occasional dips in quality and a lack of overall coherence - but Eminem's tracks mark a return to form. 'Lose Yourself' is his best in a long time, the verbal intensity comfortably matched by thunderous beats and samples.

Elsewhere, '8 Mile' lines up the usual suspects. Jay-Z rocks a nice beat on '8 Miles And Runnin' but takes it nowhere and Nas shows that he still can't recapture his magnificent early form with the flaccid 'U Wanna Be Me'.

Elsewhere Rakim, and Macy Gray both underperform, and none of the new artists create much of an impression, with the exception of Young Zee's moody funk. Just as the album is whimpering to its end, the ever-reliable Gangstarr come up with the goods on 'Battle' and Eminem drops the doom-laden 'Rabbit Run'. Not bad, but it should have been miles better.

Luke McManus

Tracklisting: Lose Yourself by Eminem - Luv Me by Eminem/Obie Trice/50 Cent - 8 Mile by Eminem - Adrenline Rush by Obie Trice - Places to Go by 50 Cent - Rap Game by D12 - 8 Miles and Runnin' by Jay-Z - Spit Shine by Xzibit - Time of My Life by Macy Gray - U Wanna Be Me by Nas - Wanksta by 50 Cent - Wasting My Time by Taryn Manning - R.A.K.I.M. by Rakim - That's My Nigga For Real by Young Zee - Battle by Gang Starr - Rabbit Run by Eminem