No one on the current scene is better at playing the music-buying public than the pasty Mr. Mathers. As evidence, think back to the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, when he was apparently offended by ribbing from Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, a puppet wielded by comedian Robert Smigel. This reaction made the previously bulletproof rapper seem thin-skinned and churlish. But instead of shrugging off the gaffe and moving on, he transformed the dippy incident into dough via "Ass Like That," a single from his multi-platinum Encore disc that's being promoted with a video co-starring Smigel's right hand. Predictably, MTV is wearing out the clip, and that should enhance attendance for the Anger Management tour, which places Eminem atop a bill filled out by 50 Cent, D12, G-Unit, Obie Trice, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, Green Lantern and Stat Quo. In some ways, this victory lap seems unwarranted. After all, Encore merely recycled the various styles and personas Em perfected on the more interesting albums that preceded it. Nevertheless, America continues to purchase whatever he's peddling, and his canny salesmanship is the reason. Talk about a Triumph.


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