Week 14 Review

Eminem has never been afraid to share his many struggles with fatherhood in his lyrics so it seems appropriate to review the soundtrack to the 2002 movie, 8 Mile, just right after Father’s Day.       

8milecover

Artist: Various Artists {Eminem, Obie Trice, 50 Cent, D12, Jay-Z, Xzibit, Macy Gray, Nas, Boomkat, Rakim, Young Zee, Gang Starr}
Album: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture 8 Mile
Year: 2002
Genre: Hip-hop
Rating: 3.95/5

Worth Your Time? It’s not perfect but the who’s who of hip-hop helps hold it up to the height of worth hearing.

Twitter Review: 8 Mile soundtrack reminds you why Eminem rose to super-stardom in 1999 and includes a great collection of artists around him on this album.

 Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Eminem – Rabbit Run
  2. Eminem – Lose Yourself
  3. Gang Starr – Battle, 50 Cent – Wanksta (tie)

Things to Look For:

  • The Real PetermanWhile 8 Mile is not a biographical picture of Marshal Bruce Mathers III, it does share some similarities with Eminem’s life. This creates this blurring between Eminem and the character he played, Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith Jr., on the songs which Eminem raps. Sometimes he’s rapping as B-Rabbit and other times he’s himself. In one particular line he raps “… it’s no movie, there’s no Mekhi Phifer, this is my life” but in reality Phifer plays the character Future, who is based on his best friend, the late Proof. So much like the logic of Seinfeld’s The Muffin Tops episode, Marshal has his Phifer.
  • Who’s Who of Hip-Hop. Jay-Z’s 8 Miles and Runnin’ is entertaining as he picks apart those trying to take advantage of his success by claiming they were there from the start. Nas claims his crown in U Wanna Be Me with great lines such as “Pay me a half a million, I’ll consult your album and show you how to stay off my dick.” This track is actually aimed directly at his fellow trackmate Jay-Z. Rakim spits fierce fire in R.A.K.I.M. and there’s no doubt why Rakim is considered by many to be the greatest and most influential MC of all-time. Rakim was part of the golden era of hip-hop in the 80’s as he released several incredibly important albums with DJ Eric B. In Places To Go, 50 Cent delivers some textbook-perfect, laid-back flow that delighted me every time I heard it. Finally, Gang Starr brings some fantastic turntablism and old school boasting to the soundtrack with Battle. Sadly, Guru, Gang Starr’s MC, died while in a coma after a heart attack in 2010.
  • Eminem. While Eminem’s supporting cast certainly helps with the soundtrack, Eminem absolutely owns this album like he should. Lose Yourself is widely celebrated as one of Eminem’s best songs as it reached #1 on 24 charts worldwide, earned him numerous awards and was placed on many all-time best lists. Many of these awards and lists encompassed all genres instead of being hip-hop specific which really shows just how successful this song was. So why did I put Rabbit Run above it? It has no hook, compelling or otherwise. It has no driving guitar riff. Instead, it has just one long epic and intense delivery by Eminem from the perspective of Rabbit dealing with personal struggles of writing and life. It uses an aggressive back beat that slowly swallows up the listener but unexpectedly and abruptly stops. Then Eminem delivers the final line: “Rabbit, run” leaving the listener with a single haunting bell ring that fades out to end the album. It is without a doubt the best ending of I have ever heard for a soundtrack. And that is why I put it above Lose Yourself.
  • Slow Your Roll. While most of the album is incredibly aggressive to the point where I felt like I wanted to start something and throw down in the hallways of work as I listened to this album on repeat all week, there are two tracks that helped break up all the testosterone being pumped into my veins: Time of My Life by Macy Gray and Wasting My Time by Boomkat. For all you Orange is the New Black fans, one half of Boomkat is Taryn Manning who plays Pennsatucky. She also had a part in 8 Mile as well. Of the two, I prefer Wasting My Time but I think they are both good.

Low Points: Ellway ethay irstfay owlay ointpay isway ettypray easyway.
Itway isway enwhay Eminemway apsray inway igpay atinlay uringday D12’s Ethay Apray Amegay. Itway omescay offway asway ornycay.

The second point is pretty much the entire song, Love Me, which features the chorus of “I just wanna love ya, for the rest of my life I wanna hold you in the mornin, hold you through the night” by a female singer. This is surrounded with insults from the male rappers on the track like “I don’t love you bitch” and being preceded with the line “And all the bitches say…” which all this may have been tolerable if the verses in between weren’t as forgettable as they were. 50 Cent’s in particular is forever lost to time as it loaded with insignificant pop culture references that I don’t think anybody cares about 12 years later.

My final low point features Obie Trice’s Adrenaline Rush where Obie proceeds to rhyme the word muthafucka 10 times in a row. Now you would think that maybe he would have done something clever like rhyme the word before it in each of the lines but nope. So to me it comes off as a lazy 10 lines.

Anything Else: I was absolutely convinced that Eminem had sampled a classic rock song for Lose Yourself. It sounded so familiar. The most likely candidate for me was Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. But no. The song is completely original and samples nothing. In fact after I read a forum post on the analysis of the guitar riff I felt silly for even thinking it. Not the first time I was wrong about a song. And it won’t be the last.

Finally, there’s a sequel to this album: More Music from 8 Mile. Your first thought might be why would I want to listen to a bunch of tracks not good enough to be on the original soundtrack release? The answer is pretty simple. The second album only includes songs from the movie that were released in 1995 which is the year the movie took place in. I thought that was rather clever. I haven’t listened to it yet but it looks like a strong collection with songs from Wu-Tang, B.I.G. and 2Pac included.

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Week 4 Review

This week I’m reviewing one of the most important 90’s BritPop albums: (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis. Yet another album with lukewarm reviews initially but is now considered a classic.   

Artist: Oasis {Liam Gallagher (vocals), Noel Gallagher (lead guitar), Paul Authurs (rhythm guitar), Paul McGuigan (bass guitar), Alan White (drums)}
Album: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
Year: 1995
Genre: BritPop
Rating: 3.333/5 Stars

Worth Your Time? Listen to it only while your driving.

Twitter Review: Mediocrity thy name is Morning Glory. It has some qualities of a good album but those get overwhelmed by the time everything is over.

Top 3 Tracks: 

  1. Champagne Supernova
  2. Wonderwall
  3. I’m not wasting your time by picking a third song from an 10 way tie.

Things to Look For:

  • Now where have I heard that before?  Oasis is famous for their songs sounding fairly similar to existing songs. I’m sure you could pick out a couple listening to it or at least have one déjà vu moment.
  • Follow the bouncing ball.  I don’t think I know of an album that I can sing along to as much as I can with this one.  It is definitely the album’s greatest quality and makes this one of the best albums to listen to in your car. Champagne Supernova is of course the sing-along high point.
  • Silence.  There is a moment in Wonderwall where it’s nearly silent as the guitar fades for a couple beats before the drums start back up. For whatever reason I have always loved that moment.
  • Feuding brothers. Liam and Noel got into all sorts of fights and were a mainstay for British tabloids. It’s worth reading up on their brotherly love throughout the years.

Low Points: I usually I struggle with this moment.  And you would think with this being one of the greatest if not greatest 90’s BritPop album of all time, I would struggle here as well. I really wish that was the case but I think the original reviews had it right.  Even though I am compelled to sing with every chorus on the album, I can barely tell the songs apart minus the two US singles.  They’re just so unimaginative and similar sounding.  Most of the tracks are just kind of there. Maybe from a historical/cultural perspective they are important but that really doesn’t help me enjoy the songs. Again, not counting the two US singles. I cannot stress that enough.

Anything Else: This album has a lot of personal significance.  It was the very first compact disc I ever bought and with my own money too.  I went home and listened to it in my bedroom over and over being it was the only thing I could play in my CD player. Wonderwall was the first song I ever tried to learn on my saxophone by just listening to it and trying to figure out the notes.  After weeks of practicing, I debuted my incredible recreation in the high school art room after some coaxing from a close friend. After I finished, he quietly informed me that it sounded absolutely nothing like the song. I stuck to pop songs I had sheet music for after that. (Yellow Submarine, anyone?)

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