8 MILE (Shady/Interscope) Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
His larger-than-life persona aside, you get the feeling that Eminem, at his core, is just a hiphop fan, so it's fitting that the soundtrack to the film about his life is the major-label equivalent of a mixed tape. Part of the fun of being a multi-million-selling artist is that you can get fellow giants like Jay-Z, Rakim, Xzibit and Gangstarr in your mix. Jay-Z manages to build an entire track out of an advertisement for his new album, while Eminem offers up four driving, typically brooding cuts of his own. But it's the unknowns that truly shine here. Detroit's Obie Trice rockets out of the underground with a couple of abrasive stunners, while rising star 50 Cent shows he's worth all the attention and cash being thrown his way. Whether 8 Mile actually complements the film of the same name is immaterial, but it's good to know that Eminem can have a career in A&R when his hair dye runs out.