I've listened to and even bought one of the albums of Marshall Mathers, a.k.a. Eminem. I've seen portions of his pseudo-autobiographic movie 8 Mile. I get that he's creative, and I particularly like his self-deprecating manner when he conducts himself in press gatherings. He's talented. I get it. But honestly, his attempts to offend and titillate by poking fun at just about everyone under the sun? Sorry, they just feel like immature acts for attention by a person who grew up with a mother who wasn't exactly parent of the year material.
Just in rattling off some of the people he's tried to parody in his music based on what little I know about him, it's a formidable list. You have George Bush (though to be fair, that target is passed around quite a bit), Sarah Palin, Mariah Carey, Moby and Michael Jackson, to name a few. But people still flock to his music in droves; since his debut album placed number two in the US, his next four albums have topped the charts, with 15 Top 10 singles, nine in the US. So maybe all this aggression is working. Perhaps that's why his tours have been titled "Anger Management." This particular show (filmed in 2005 in New York's Madison Square Garden and aired on the Showtime cable network) is in support of that tour. The set list includes:
"Ass Like That"
"Like Toy Soldiers"
"The Way I Am"
"Just Don't Give a F**K"
"Got Some Teeth"
"Stay 'Bout It (Aqua)"
"The Set Up"
"Cleaning out My Closet"
"Just Lose It"
" Lose Yourself"
Along with the songs are three filmed backstage segments of Mathers, changing outfits or just generally getting ready for the last leg of the concert. They don't really do anything except add to his mystique I guess. Whoo, he takes his shirt off in one. Look, he writes notes to his mom in another. Yay Em. And while he makes sure that people remember the hard time he had growing up, it doesn't stop his crowd from sounding like, well, they came to a Jonas Brothers show.
Yes, there's many women at the show. When the production cuts to crowd shots, there are many females there, a portion of whom appear as if their parents might have brought them. It might make me sound like a codger, but honestly girls, rap shows in an arena aren't the best place to go for a nice night out. They're more meant for cramped clubs, where you're pressed against a concrete pillar with a mattress wrapped around it, drinking watered-down domestic beer for $6 a pop. Rap shows are a raw experience, similar to the music they inspire; giving them a bright shiny stage and surprisingly decent production value just doesn't seem like "street" to me.
Does Mathers try what he can to make it fun? Sure. He brings out members of his record label to help in the songs, including D12, Stat Quo, Obie Trice and Proof, whose 2006 murder leaves this as a rare video document to what his talents might have been. Eminem may be live in the Big Apple, but the grandness of the world's greatest stage seem to dwarf even his prodigious abilities.
E1 takes the Showtime high definition presentation and converts it into a 1.78:1 1080i widescreen viewing with the AVC codec. While the wider shots of the crowd (along with Mathers and his collaborators on opposite ends of the stage) have more dimension than I was expecting, the background shots leave me a little apathetic. For that matter, a lot of the tighter shots on Mathers and the performers don't really have a lot of detail either. Still, blacks are solid and whites aren't overblown, flesh tones appear natural and the colors are a little more vivid and accurate than I was expecting. Good but not great work.
There's your choice of two-channel LPCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround (lossy) and DTS-HD Master Audio. The music sounded fine, though the lyrics were a little soft at times and required some adjustment. Consequently when Mathers would introduce other members on stage or celebrate the fact that he was in the Garden, a sustained bass note (or audio "gun shot") reminds you that the subwoofer is available to do work when called upon. The crowd noise and ambient effects make for a more immersive environment than if you saw the thing on TV, and it's worth taking the ride for.
Zip, zero, zilch.
Eminem: Live from New York City is certainly better than most rap concerts on Blu-ray that I've seen. Counting this one, I've seen a total of one. But a rap show for 19,000 screaming suburban kids going back to New Jersey at the end of the night doesn't scream out as an authentic experience without somehow diluting the product. The disc sounds better than it looks, but with no extras on it, I'd suggest sticking with reruns on Showtime, and that's about it.