My #4 album of 2002 is The Eminem Show — the third studio album by Eminem.
The Detroit rapper had the difficult task of following up on his smash success from 2000, The Marshall Mathers LP. That record stirred up a heap of controversy and sparked debates about free speech and artistic expression. It also received tremendous critical acclaim and sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
How do you follow that? With arguably an even better album.
Eminem raps about his success from several angles, from the hypocrisy of his critics in ‘White America’ to the media’s love-hate relationship with him on jokey first single ‘Without Me.’ In ‘Sing for the Moment,’ over a sample from Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On,’ Eminem delivers a rousing ode to the disaffected youth who find meaning in rap music.
He gets personal as well. ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’ is one of the rapper’s most biting songs, taking his mother to task for a lifetime of transgressions. ‘Hallie’s Song’ is an ode to his daughter in which he sings the verses, showing uncharacteristic vulnerability. And on closing track ‘My Dad’s Gone Crazy,’ he enlists Hallie herself to blurt out the title phrase over a gonzo rhyme.
Today’s track, ‘Square Dance,’ is a great example of the sort of left-field writing and production decisions Eminem makes on this album. Here he fuses country with hip-hop, creating something awkward and creatively exhilarating. It’s a great encapsulation of the sustained high-wire act that makes The Eminem Show so successful.
People! It feels so good to be back
Ladies and gentleman, introducing the new and improved you know who
Never been the type to bend or budge
The wrong button to push, no friend of Bush
I’m the centerpiece, you’re a Maltese
I’m a pitbull off his leash, all this peace talk can cease
All these people I had to leave in limbo
I’m back now, I’ve come to release this info
So I’ll be brief and let me just keep shit simple
Canibitch don’t want no beef with Slim, nooooo!
Not even on my radar
So won’t you please jump off my dick, lay off and stay off
And follow me as I put these crayons to chaos
From seance to seance
C’mon now, let’s all get on down
Let’s do-si-do now
We gon’ have a good time
Don’t be scared, cause there ain’t nothing to worry about
Let your hair down
And square dance with me!
Yeah, let your hair down to the track, yeah kick on back
Boo! The boogie monster of rap, yeah the man’s back
With a plan to ambush this Bush administration
Mush the Senate’s face and push this generation
Of kids to stand and fight for the right to say something you might not like
This white hot light that I’m under, no wonder I look so sunburnt
Oh no, I won’t leave no stone unturned
Oh no, I won’t leave, won’t go nowhere
Do-si-do, oh, yo, ho, hello there
Oh yeah, don’t think I won’t go there
Go to the Beirut and do a show there
Yeah you laugh till your mothafucking ass gets drafted
While you’re at band camp thinking that crap can’t happen
Till you fuck around, get an Anthrax napkin
Inside a package wrapped in Saran wrap wrappin’
Open the plastic and then you stand back gaspin’
Fucking assassins hi-jackin’ Amtrak’s, crashin’
All this terror, America demands action
Next thing you know you’ve got Uncle Sam’s ass askin’
To join the army or what you’ll do for their Navy
You just a baby getting recruited at 18
You’re on a plane now, eating their food and their baked beans
I’m 28, they gonna take you ‘fore they take me
Crazy insane or insane crazy?
When I say Hussein, you say Shady
My views ain’t changed, still Inhumane, wait
Arraigned two days late, the date’s today, hang me!
Nothing moves me more than a groove that soothes me
Nothing soothes me more than a groove that boosts me
Nothing boosts me more or suits me beautifully
There’s nothing you can do to me, stab me, shoot me
Psychotic, hypnotic, product I got the antibiotic
Ain’t nobody hotter and so on and yada yada
God I talk a lot of hem-de-lay-la-la-la
Oochie walla walla um da dah da dah da but you gotta gotta
Keep moving, there’s more music to make
Keep making new shit, produce hits to break
The monotony, what’s gotten into me?
Drugs, rock and Hennessy, thug like I’m ‘Pac on my enemies
On your knees, Got you under siege
Somebody you would give a lung to be
Hungry like a fucking younger me
Fuck the fee, I can get you jumped for free
Yeah buddy, laugh it’s funny
I have the money to have you killed by somebody who has nothin’
I’m past bluffing
Pass the K-Y, let’s get ready for some intense serious ass whooping!
Dr. Dre wants to square dance with me
Nasty Nas wants to square dance with me
X to the Z wants to square dance with me
Busta Rhymes wants to square dance with me
Cana-bitch won’t square dance with me
Fan-a-bitch won’t square dance with me
Canada-bis don’t want no parts of me
Dirty Dozen wants to square dance with you
I completely agree with your review and high praise for this album. Even if you are not a fan of rap music, which I generally am not, you can appreciate the mastery of Eminem at the top of his game here. “Square Dance” has always been one of my favorites on the record among a bevy of great tracks.