Eminem might as well be a politician. He embodies the dichotomy well: someone who's fundamentally reprehensible as a human being, yet represents the worldview of a huge portion -- perhaps even most -- of this country. With Encore, his fourth full-length, Marshall Mathers once again excels in his role as the rotten core of American values, the side of the silent majority that won't shut the fuck up. The disc sports the same sub-Jay-Z vibe and Dr. Dre sheen as its predecessors, and Em's targets are still painfully played out: women, his dad, Michael Jackson, even the Olsen twins. The track "Mosh," though, is Encore's best and most telling. Its Bush-bashing sentiment has already been widely dissected, but are people actually hearing the lyrics? They're brilliant -- an apt encapsulation of the unease that Dubya's newly legitimized regime has set simmering underneath this society. And therein lies Eminem's power as both a musician and a cultural avatar. He's certainly not saying anything new. But he's chewing up the raw pulp of the American psyche and spewing it out in swiftly spun, easily digestible sound bites. With Encore, Eminem polarizes -- and yet remains ultimately empty enough to be anything to anyone. Just like a politician.
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