Album: Curtain Call
Rating: 3 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Greatest hits packages are a pain in the ass to review. To a fan of the artist or group they’re not usually worth the money – the dedicated will already have picked up the singles or albums that made the artist or group successful enough in their career to HAVE a greatest hits. The only reason to buy this for them is the promise of previously unheard of tracks, a DVD, or some other special draw that will have them parting with their hard-earned.
No, greatest hits are, in reality, the Cliff Notes of the music industry. Know nothing about an artist? Can’t be arsed tracking down their albums? Hey, just buy this collection of their greatest hits, and you too can be an expert! Simple, innit?
Eminem’s “Curtain Call” is an interesting greatest hits collection on several different levels. On the simplest, we have (judging by the title, the album art, and the various rumors swirling around the music industry) the final release from Eminem, and a way for him to say goodbye to his fans before shuffling into retirement. Yes, all those great hits he made for you are here, and to make it even better, there’s 3 brand new tracks that have never been released before! In stores now! However, this release can also be used to plot the downward-spiralling career of a man who, when he first forced his blonde-topped napper into the arena, was many people’s tip to be one of the best rappers ever, and sadly now has become little more than a long-running bad joke.
Why? Well, as we all know Dre picked up Em release his first major seller, “The Slim Shady LP”. A decent album in some parts, in others a little too heavy on the clowning around, it was a bittersweet followup to the promise of “The Slim Shady EP” where the original versions of some of the tracks (“Just The Two Of Us” for example) far outdid the album versions that followed. However, you were willing to forgive Em the irritations of ‘My Name Is’, ‘Cum On Everybody’ and other such tracks because of the promise of what was to come further down the line – ‘Guilty Conscience’, ‘Just Don’t Give A Fuck’, and ’97 Bonnie & Clyde’ amongst others hinted at a bright and impressive future.
Unfortunately we now know that the bright and impressive future was for Em’s record company, lawyer and real estate agent. The Slim Shady phenomenon blew up on the back of ‘Stan’, and Eminem and his bank manager never looked back. Although several cuts on the sophomore “Marshall Mathers LP” still showed flashes of brilliances, they were buried under a sea of puerile jokes and blatant attempts at pop hits, a world away from the Eminem, Hiphop fans who feverishly devoured his early freestyles hoped for. From there, as his stock (and sales) have rocketed, his reputation in the Hiphop community has nosedived – his work with the awful D-12, his production ability, his increasingly infantile rhymes, and his penchant for talking non-stop about little but his wife, his mother, and his daughter, has seen Eminem become predicatable and downright boring. “The Eminem Show” and “Encore” are the hard-to-listen-to proof.
“Curtain Call” takes the biggest selling singles from each of Eminem’s albums and drops three new tracks amidst them. ‘Fack’ is one of them and it opens the album. Its horrible – immature screaming, senseless swearing, and nonsensical rhymes over a minimal self-produced beat. The spirit of Eric Cartman is alive here, and its not a good thing. Later, ‘Shake That’ actually sounds like something 50 Cent might do – right down to the pronounication on the intro. The club-ish beat is average here, which is actually not a bad score at all for another Eminem self-produced beat, and Nate Dogg pops up on the hook. Its not something you’ll be listening to again though. The third new track is ‘When I’m Gone’, and sees the
bored and burned out more thoughtful, more mature Eminem talking about how his relationship with his daughter and his wife has suffered due to his career in the music business. Ironically, he barely references the fact that his own stupid ass putting them IN his music might be a major cause of any relationship damage, instead choosing to focus on the fact that he’s never around because he’s in the studio or on tour. Here he’s explaining to his family how he wants to kill off the Slim Shady persona to spend more time with them, and to his fans exactly WHY he’s hanging up the mic. Its a sad song indeed, not because of the subject matter, but more because this is meant to be Em’s retirement letter to both his family and fans and yet, instead of going out with a bang, this is more of a damp squib. The pedestrian beat, with the standard keyboard violin plugin doesn’t cause any sparks at all, and Em’s rantings about his fam fail to hit the spot at all – we’ve heard it all so many times before… Kim this, Hailey that… all delivered in that increasingly irritating nasal tone. It wasn’t like this in the beginning…
Oh yeah, the beginning…
Along with the 3 new tracks, you get the usual suspects. ‘My Name Is’, ‘Stan’, ‘The Way I Am’, The Real Slim Shady’, ”Without Me’, Just Lose It’, ‘Cleanin’ Out My Closet’ and more. You know the deal – just think of any MTV track that has irritated the shit out of you due to its overplay on MTV and you’ll nail the tracklisting straight away. Its an ideal Christmas gift for someone who dabbles in Hiphop from time to time, but isn’t serious about it. For the serious Hiphop fan, its not even worth a download. Sadly, its almost a fitting epitaph.