Release date: May 2002
The Eminem Show is the fourth studio album by American rapper Eminem, released in 2002.
The Eminem Show was the best-selling album of 2002. At the Grammy Awards of 2003 it was nominated for Album of the Year and became Eminem's third LP in four years to win the award for Best Rap Album. It has been certified 8x Platinum by the RIAA, and has sold over 9.8 million copies in the US and over 19 million albums worldwide. In 2003, the album was ranked number 317 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It was ranked 84 on Rolling stone magazines best albums of the 2000s list. The album received critical praise by most music critics and is often debated as Eminem's most personal and best work. The Eminem Show was Eminem's first album to be mainly self-produced, and was the first Eminem album to be released under Shady Records.
The Eminem Show was first scheduled for a June 2002 release; however pirated and bootleg copies appeared online on peer-to-peer networks and began surfacing on the streets. Interscope decided to release the album early on May 28 to combat bootlegging. However, many stores in the US began selling it early on Sunday May 26. Despite the confusion over the exact release date, the album still managed to have a wildly successful debut on the charts. The album sold 1.32 million copies in its first full week of sales. The Eminem Show was Eminem's most successful album in terms of charting singles. It spawned two top-ten and four top fifteen singles with "Without Me", "Cleanin' Out My Closet", "Sing For The Moment" and "Superman", which managed to reach the top ten without a video counterpart. In addition, "My Dad's Gone Crazy", "Business", "Hailie's Song", and "White America" were selected airplay singles of the controversial album.
The Eminem Show is a reflective album, featuring Eminem's more personal and serious side. This change gives the album a lighter tone, a departure from his previous albums. One of the most noticeable changes is the generally lighter lyrical content. Over the course of the album, he touches on the issues of race in hip hop ("White America"), his childhood ("Cleanin' Out My Closet"), the United States Government, and terrorism. ("Square Dance"), his 2000 assault on a nightclub bouncer and his following conviction ("Soldier"), him coming to terms with fate the downside of fame ("Say Goodbye Hollywood"), his status as both a hip hop and pop superstar ("Sing for the Moment"), and his relationship with his ex-wife Kim and daughter Hailie ("Hailie's Song"). Also, the song "Say What You Say" (featuring Dr. Dre) is an attack on Jermaine Dupri. Unlike The Marshall Mathers LP, The Eminem Show's release came off without significant complaints about misogyny or homophobia. Some shock-oriented and extremely explicit lyrics are still present (for example, "Drips" was so explicit that it was completely removed in the clean version of the album, although it is still listed in the track listing and is instead four seconds of silence, before "Without Me" starts), but they are for the most part toned down. "Hailie's Song" censors "abort her" when he says "God, I'm a daddy, I'm so glad that her mom didn't abort her." Also, in "White America", in Eminem's speech the word "flag" is backmasked when he says "To burn the flag and replace it with a parental advisory sticker". Q Magazine's May, 2006 review of the album proposes "His two first albums aired dirty laundry, then the world's most celebrated rapper examined life in the hall of mirrors he'd built for himself."
The clean version of The Eminem Show was significantly censored, compared to his previous albums, in which the words "goddamn", "bitch", and "ass" were allowed. This album allowed no profanities, and the profanities were "muted" or even "back masked" a few times. Following this, the censored version even took out entire sentences because they were too sexually charged. In fact, the entire song "Drips" is removed in the clean version and is just heard as four seconds of silence moving on to "Without Me", due to thinking there were so many profanities that editing the song would be pointless. Though there was a clean version of the song only on the PA version of the Album. However, in the skit "The Kiss", it can still be clearly heard that Eminem shouts "Mother fucker!" on the censored version.
The album also saw Eminem take a substantially more predominant production role; most of it was self-produced, with longtime collaborator Jeff Bass co-producing several tracks (mainly the eventual singles). Dr. Dre, in addition to being the album's executive producer, produced three individual tracks: "Business", "Say What You Say", and "My Dad's Gone Crazy".