Curtain Call 2 marks the growth, maturity and “mainstreamification” of Eminem. Kevin Bourne explains in his Curtain Call 2 album review.
With his days as a fresh faced, angry, 20-something rapper now in the rearview mirror, Eminem is joining the growing ranks of 50-something elder statesmen continuing to write the manual on how to age gracefully in hip-hop.
As he approaches the half-century mark, his legacy is one of the most highly debated in the history of the rap music. To some he’s a visitor in the culture―the hip-hop Elvis Presley who appropriated Black culture on his way to superstardom. To others, he’s one of the top five MC’s to ever pick up a mic. Period.
Adding a little spark to the firy debate is his latest release Curtain Call 2, a compilation album featuring some of his biggest hits. The project is a follow up to his 2005 greatest hits release Curtain Call. Where that project focused on his earlier hits from his first eight years in the game alongside four new tracks, including “Fack”, “When I’m Gone”, “Shake That” featuring Nate Dogg, and a live version of “Stan”, featuring Elton John, Curtain Call 2picks up where it left off, featuring his more “recent” hits alongside unreleased songs “Is This Love (’09)” featuring 50 Cent and the “Rap God – Mr. Cii Remix”.
A quick comparison of the two compilation projects reveal the evolution of the controversial rapper. Where Curtain Call had very few features, except for Nate Dogg and Dr. Dre, Curtain Call 2 reveals the “mainstreamification” of Eminem with features from the likes of Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Gwen Stefani, Bruno Mars, Pink and Rihanna, as well as the title track from the Venom soundtrack. The compilation also demonstrates his ability to keep his ear in tune with the next generation through his collaborations with JuiceWRLD and Joyner Lucas.
Really, the project is a testament to his growth and maturity which has been a source of disappointment for some Eminem fans as the blonde haired, angry and drug addicted Slim Shady has given way to the sober, brown haired and bearded Em.
Some questioned whether Eminem’s sobriety and maturity led to his decline, but as stated earlier, his career has been one of the prime examples of how to mature properly in hip-hop. Earlier in his career, he made hits but did it his way, whereas in the second part of his career he learned to make more “accessible” songs that would resonate with and touch the masses. He also explored new flows and melodic deliveries in line with the evolution of the genre.
He has easily remained one of the most relevant rappers in the world through his criticisms of former U.S. president, Donald Trump, and more recently the Super Bowl half-time show where he kneeled and raised his first in the air, using his platform as a white artist in Black culture to become a political activist of sorts.
Wherever you stand in the debate of Eminem’s legacy, when it comes to cadence, wordplay, and the overall ability to rhyme words together, Eminem is one of the best to ever do it (and he has co-signs from the greats to prove it) and Curtain Call 2 proves as much.
Curtain Call 2 is available on all major streaming platforms.