Album: Eminem <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

As one of the few rappers capable of making significant artistic jumps from album to album, it's odd to hear Eminem's hits jumbled together like this, with the cartoon monster of "My Name Is" side by side with the self-aware misanthrope of "The Way I Am", the desperate wannabe of "Lose Yourself", the sly ironist of "Stan" and the compassionate father of "Mockingbird". With the new, suicidal single "When I'm Gone" slipped in at the end, it's almost as if we're there on the brink of death with Eminem, watching his life flash by in a series of highlights. Not that his career has exactly been a steady pursuit of maturity, as illustrated by the three new tracks: "When I'm Gone" may be a sombre reflection on the strains Eminem's profession places on his family life, but both "Shake That" and "Fack" are incorrigibly infantile in their celebrations of, respectively, drugs and sex - the latter inviting us, with a suitably cartoonish sneer, to "shove a gerbil in your ass". Still, there's more than enough evidence of Eminem's comic genius here to set him apart from his peers, although the extra, Elton'n'Eminem version of "Stan" should have been excluded in favour of the devastating Iraq-crusade indictment "Mosh".

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'Shake That', 'When I'm Gone', 'Stan', 'The Way I Am'