Personnel: Eminem (drum programming); Jeff Bass, Mike Elizondo (guitar, keyboards); Steve King (guitar); Luis Resto (keyboards, programming); Mark Batson, Tom Coster, Jr. (keyboards); DJ Head (drum programming).
Audio Mixers: Dr. Dre; Eminem; Steve King .
Recording information: 54 Sound Studio, Detroit, MI; Marshall's House, Detroit, MI; TransContinental Studios, Orlando, FL.
Photographers: Karin Catt; Anthony Mandler; Jonathan Mannion; Nitin Vadukul.
It's hard to believe, given his gargantuan impact on popular culture, that Eminem had only released four full-length albums by 2004. That year's ENCORE showed the rapper's artistic vitality fading just a bit, but 2005's CURTAIN CALL, an overdue greatest-hits collection, helps remind audiences that Eminem produced a stunning string of singles in a short span of time. Naturally, CURTAIN CALL eschews the artist's most controversial material ("'97 Bonnie and Clyde," for example, from THE SLIM SHADY LP), focusing instead on his highest charters, like 8 MILE's "Lose Yourself" and introspective confessionals like "Cleanin' Out My Closet" (a rant against his mother) and "Mockingbird" (a tribute to his daughter).
But even at his most sentimental and dramatic, Eminem displays a level of artistry that surpasses nearly anyone in hip-hop, if not pop music in general. Satirical, vicious, funny, and energizing, Eminem's material is never less than absorbing. CURTAIN CALL is packed wall-to-wall with winners (except maybe "Sing For the Moment," which reworks Aerosmith's "Dream On" in tiresome fashion), and at its most brilliant (like the self-reflexive romps "The Real Slim Shady" and "Stan") it's as era-defining as anything by N.W.A, Public Enemy, or even Bob Dylan. Though his individual albums are all pretty essential, CURTAIN CALL provides a valuable overview of an artist whose skills are unassailable, and whose role as a social gadfly remains as complex as ever.