Eminem

8 Mile [Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture]

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    8
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This may be the soundtrack for Eminem's movie debut, but don't think of 8 Mile of as an Eminem album, because it's not. It's a soundtrack and plays like a soundtrack, with many cuts from current stars and new artists (several associated with Eminem's fledgling Shady imprint), plus a couple of previously released tracks, most of it very high quality, whether it's a hard-hitting Jay-Z, a sultry Macy Gray, or Taryn Manning's Boomkat's sexy slow burn "Wasting My Time." Sure, there's a couple of tracks that fall flat -- Young Zee and Obie Trice feel strained -- but it all flows well, and it's all strong. But it's also all overshadowed by four blindingly great new songs from Eminem (four and a half, if you count his show-stealing appearance on D-12's "Rap Game"), all illustrating a step forward from The Eminem Show, even if they work a familiar pseudo-biographical ground. What impresses is not just the wordplay and delivery, but the music itself -- fuller, richer than anything on his previous records, appropriately cinematic in scope and pushing Eminem toward new heights. The opening track and first single "Lose Yourself" is easily equaled by the title song with its layered pianos, while "Rabbit Run" is nearly as good. Hearing these, it's hard not to greedily hunger for a full album of this, but the soundtrack is excellent as is and these new Eminem cuts make it a necessary purchase.

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