May 4, 2004

Eminen shines, but his band bores
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights

Even Michael Jordan couldn't save the otherwise horrendous Washington Wizards, but at least he turned them into a decent team worth watching.

Similarly, even Eminem can't save the otherwise ignorable D12 album, D12 World, but at least you can skip around and listen to all the phenomenal verses from Eminem and decent production from Dr. Dre and Kanye West.

Part of Jordan's failure to bring the Wizards into the playoffs can be attributed to his old age and weak knees, but Eminem is obviously at the top of his game right now, so there is no one to blame but his teammates.

It's not that the other members of D12 are horrible rappers, but their generic content and delivery wither in the huge shadow of Eminem, the "lead singer of the band." The album opens with "Git Up" and an especially ridiculous verse from Eminem, who then unfortunately hands off the baton to his less-gifted crew.

Sometimes Eminem's verse is first and you can simply skip the rest of the song, but often a jewel is hidden in the heap of mediocrity, such as on "Get My Gun," in which Eminem's hilarious rap about a jammed gun is surrounded by the others' forgettable verses.

In terms of rapping, there isn't enough Eminem, but in terms of production, there's too much. Eminem has once again used D12 as a guinea pig for his continued experiments with production, but no one needs six songs produced by Slim Shady. Fellow D12 rapper Kon Artis, aka Denaun Porter, produces three tracks on the album; yet, his work for D12 never sounds as good as when he produces for 50 Cent ("Stunt 101" and "PIMP").

Kanye West offers an excellent beat for the title track, but the song ends forgettably without a verse from Eminem. Even Kanye's Middle Eastern violin melody outshines the bland rhymes from D12.

Unlike the hometown crews of Nelly or Cam'ron, most of D12 can actually rap surprisingly well, especially Proof. Their inability to shape interesting verses out of their natural talent proves that a nice delivery can't compensate for empty, repetitive subject matter.

Dr. Dre probably hates to waste one of his beats for D12, but he nevertheless obliged the requests from his white little brother and produced the ominous "American Psycho II," featuring B-Real from Cyprus Hill.

The surprise guest on the album is underground producer Hi-Tek. Best known for his classic collaboration with Talib Kweli, Reflection Eternal, Hi-Tek is instead paired with Bizarre, quite possibly the worst rapper of all time, for the album's only solo cut, "Just Like U."

It's always painful to hear a quality instrumental butchered by an ignorant, talentless emcee, but despite his utter lack of talent, Bizarre at least grabs the listener's attention.

It would be difficult to say whether it's because of his horribly disgusting and inappropriate subject matter (even compared to Eminem) or because of his laughable lack of skill, but Bizarre's verses are at least mentionable for the fact that they are difficult to ignore.

Unfortunately, that can't be said about the other, admittedly more talented members of D12. If you're the type of person who forgets someone's name 30 seconds after you've been introduced, then you have no chance of remembering the difference between a verse from Kuniva or Swifty.

For fans of Eminem, the D12 album is full of great verses from the best rapper alive, but it amounts to nothing more than a decent album with a catchy single to keep Eminem on the radio until his solo album comes out at the end of the year.

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