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*** 1/2 EMINEM "Slim Shady LP" Aftermath / Interscope

February 21, 1999|SOREN BAKER

After releasing a sensational independent EP, recording with a throng of underground hip-hop heroes and dazzling rap radio deejays across the country with his punch-line-heavy lyrics, Eminem unleashes his explosive major-label debut album, due in stores Tuesday.

Like many of his contemporaries, the Detroit MC focuses on violence, drugs and an extremely painful childhood. But unlike most other wordsmiths, Eminem (who plays the House of Blues on Monday) adds intricate details to his lyrics, crafting fuller, more graphic pictures. He trades words with legendary producer Dr. Dre (who signed Eminem to his Aftermath label and also produced three songs on the album) on two tracks, adding even more excitement to his tales.

In Eminem's bizarre stories, he battles his conscience in exploits such as robbing an old woman, drugging and sexually assaulting an underage girl and murdering his adulterous wife. He isn't afraid to say anything; his lyrics are so clever that he makes murder sound as if it's a funny act he may indulge in simply to pass the time.

The only thing hindering the album is a sometimes flat production that takes away from the power of Eminem's verbal mayhem.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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