The Lounge Brigade

Lounge Tribute to Eminem

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On the surface, this release is a cheeky attempt to cash in on Mathers' infamy. But Lounge Tribute to Eminem just might be the ultimate signifier of how truly ensconced Marshall Mathers has become in the hearts, minds, and wallets of suburban America. While Will Smith's milquetoast raps made him a household hip-hop star whose music was safe for wedding receptions, Eminem's visceral, unflinching songs held a mirror up to society, and then put a boot through it. For as much controversy as the latter has garnered, he's still the only one to have his music transformed into hokey dinner music. And that fact just might make Lounge Tribute to Eminem as important an album as those of its titular star. That said, "the Lounge Brigade" -- relative unknowns who seem to be listed under fake names in the liner notes -- might have done a better job with the nine Eminem originals that appear on the tribute. While they don't shy away from the cursing, misogyny, and boasting of the originals, their arrangements are often weak, and the cheesy vocal delivery (think Bill Murray as Nick Winters on Saturday Night Live) gets tired very quickly. "The Real Slim Shady" is a standout; in its slowed down form, the song's lyrical couplets are even more caustic and hilarious. The snide, unflattering Frank Sinatra impersonations of "My Name Is" and "Without Me" are good for a laugh, but are actually impersonating Joe Piscopo impersonating Sinatra. It's flaws like this that make Lounge Tribute to Eminem a disappointment, even as its very existence makes it essential from a popular culture standpoint.

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