Listening to Kiss, I’m sometimes get that the impression that the real Eminem died of a heroin overdose sometime after the recording of Encore, and his albums since then have been the product of an imperfect lookalike. I mean, he’s still putting out songs that chronicle his twisted relationship with the human race, but it’s like listening to a tribute act or something. Take the following: ‘A one night stand is all he wants / With a female fan / Yeah a one night stand / And he’s talking about a one night stand / Yeah his bedroom has two lamps and only one night stand / Get the hint?’
Eminem has never been a stone-faced rapper like 50 Cent but, here, he’s making puns that might slip into an afternoon show on Radio 4, immoral topic notwithstanding. It’s like I’m hearing someone that has studied Eminem back to front, and knows that sometimes he raps about dragging his ex-wife to the woods and cutting her throat, and sometimes he makes fart jokes. He knows this, but can’t make the pieces gel. In contrast, once upon a Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem had a sure hand for bringing a gag to a violent narrative. Perhaps this explains the furious pace of rapping Eminem has adopted since Encore. On much of Hell, he’s spitting so fast it’s amazing his tongue doesn’t combust. But I get the feeling that he’s making up for something. Like to compensate for latent insecurities about his lyrics, Eminem has focused on technical skill. Or even, because he can’t admit to himself how bad this stuff is compared to the Marshall Mathers LP, he raps as quick as possible, just to get it done with.