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Lose Yourself in the 8 Mile Soundtrack

by Matthew Webber

Eminem and various artists, Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture 8 Mile (Shady/Interscope)

Like most soundtrack albums with "from and inspired by" in their titles, the first 8 Mile soundtrack is more "inspired by" than "from." It contains neither 8 Mile's battle-rapped freestyles nor the mid-'90s Biggie and Tupac tracks that actually appear in the film (which you can find on the second 8 Mile soundtrack, available now at your local retailer).

The album is unabashedly a commodity, a forum for Eminem's prodigies Obie Trice and 50 Cent; his clique D12; hip-hop heavyweights such as Jay-Z, Nas, Rakim, Gangstarr and Xzibit; and the actress Taryn Manning, Eminem's ex-girlfriend in the film, who apparently wants to cross over into music. (Good luck.)

Like similar soundtracks that have nothing to do with their films, as well as rap album skits and most D12 members, the album should suck. It would, too, if it weren't also a forum for Eminem's blooming (and booming) talent as a producer.

Eminem produces seven of the album's tracks, continuing his evolution from a potty-mouthed gag rapper to a multimedia genius. Having studied under the good Dr. Dre's tutelage, Eminem laces his tracks with fierce piano licks, pounding basslines and melodies that stick in your head.

It isn't his fault (or maybe it is) that his label- and D12-mates have trouble rapping themselves out of gift boxes. I don't believe the music publication hype: to me, Obie Trice and 50 Cent are Xeroxes of Jay-Z's Xeroxes, rappers for whom "spitting" means sounding like you alternately have too much saliva or gauze in your mouth, rhymers for whom "flow" means "like a dry creekbed" as opposed to Eminem's sandbag-toppling deluge.

The established rappers are as dope as they are on their own records, if not doper. Rakim especially rocks, perhaps to ready young record-buyers for his rumored collaboration with Dre.

Of course the album is the Eminem show. After thousands of spins on radio, "Lose Yourself" still sounds like something worth losing yourself in. On his other tracks on the album, Eminem flows as quickly, pointedly and hilariously as his 8 Mile character. Eminem still sounds like he's hungry, which should give his millions of fans something else worth chewing on.

While the 8 Mile soundtrack might be inconsistent, Eminem consistently dominates: this CD, his movie, the radio, MTV. I can't begrudge the commercialism of this album, as another chance to hear Eminem is well worth Sam Goody's asking price. Or else you could download the album and erase songs like 50 Cent's "Wanksta" from your hard drive.

Issue 12, January 2003 | next article

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