Two things are certain. One: Eminem‘s not Madonna. While Swept Away got swept away on a tide of braying abuse, the word from those American critics who’ve seen 8 Mile is that Eminem is Oscar material. “It’s a classic” said one. “Up there with Saturday Night Fever or Rocky.” You’ll have to wait until 2003 to see finally it, though with hype a year long, it feels like it’s been with us for ages.
Adding some substance to the hype, then, is the soundtrack. Eminem‘s urgent radio hit ‘Lose Yourself’, you already know. It’s excellent, if obviously an offcut from ‘The Eminem Show’, all thundering rawk guitars and Rocky-ish bassline (appropriately enough). The two other new Eminem tracks ‘8 Mile’ and ‘Rabbit Run’ are on the money, too, the latter being the shortest, shoutiest thing he’s ever done.
Elsewhere, things get more patchy. Potty-mouthed protégé Obie Trice couldn’t sell sweets without Em‘s endorsement, D-12’s ‘Rap Game’ sounds like it fell off the back of one of Bugsy Malone’s pedal cars and hello, Macy Gray? What are you doing in here? Leave it to DJ Premier’s Gang Starr, then, to right the balance. ‘Battle’ is a great old skool scratch-a-thon and, along with Jay-Z‘s lazy ‘8 Miles And Runnin”, provides an 8 Mile high. ‘From and inspired by’ rap soundtracks are usually lamentable. This one isn’t quite up there with ‘The Wash’, but it works.
Oh, and the second certainty? That is the first album to include the lyric “I cook up the hot shit like Ainsley Harriott”