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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December 2004, 16:44 GMT
'Stealth' success of Eminem's Encore
Eminem performs at the MTV Europe music awards
Eminem's Mosh urged an anti-Bush vote - the week before the election
Eminem's new album Encore attracted massive attention before its release for a number of reasons.

In the two months leading up to Encore's release, Eminem was rarely out of the news.

Controversy over two videos was followed by a raft of announcements surrounding efforts to protect the album from piracy, before leaked tracks appearing on the internet prompted the shift forward of its release.

Jacqueline Springer, of the BBC's urban music station 1Xtra, said Encore had been an instant success - in terms of sales at least.

"It was quite stealthy in its success - singles and albums in the UK are released on a Monday, this was released on a Friday in order to pre-emept and prevent any more online downloading," she told BBC World Service's The Music Biz programme.

"It was the fastest-selling album in the UK this year, between the Friday and the Sunday."

Political awareness

First there was the controversial video for the album's lead single Just Lose It, which ridiculed Michael Jackson - showing him in bed with young boys, his nose falling off and his hair catching fire.

The rap star followed this with a video for Mosh - which was not part of any single release - attacking George W Bush in the run-up to the US presidential election.

Eminem, 50 Cent and Dr Dre
People tend to think it is quite hyped, but rap records suffer more than any other from piracy
Jacqueline Springer
Moreover there were radical plans to outwit piracy - Eminem would not, it was claimed, record parts of the album until right before release, while any early copies would have the wrong track listings to confuse would-be copiers.

But Springer said that there had not been a huge conventional marketing push behind the record - arguing that advertising comes only when there is a dip in the artist's career.

She also explained why there were such big fears over piracy.

"People tend to think it is quite hyped, but rap records suffer more than any other from piracy," she said.

"They always have - you never hear about Garth Brookes complaining that he's been downloaded. He doesn't walk down a Texan street seeing all his CDs that have been downloaded laid out on a duvet by some panhandler.

"You tend to think they're hyping it up, but it is a real fear because if people get hold of them they remix them, and sometimes what people tamper with could actually be better than the product that they're putting out."

Where Encore has been less successful has been its reception by critics and fans.

Tracks like Mosh showed a new maturity and political awareness.

But Eminem's cartoon side was also to the fore, on songs like Puke and Just Lose It.

Springer believes Eminem was aware of this "dichotomy" and knew where he wanted to go with his music.

"He has this animated voice, but he talks about sombre things," she said.

"Yes, people talk about 'he wants to kill his mother', but before he got to that stage in song he talked about his mother, being at the graveside of his cousin who was killed, saying 'I wish it was you in there'.

"Can you imagine, given any truth in that, what that would do to somebody?"

Last album

Springer also commented on speculation that Encore is Eminem's last album, hinted at in the title.

She explained the artist has long insisted he would like to move behind the scenes in the music world and focus on producing, concerned about the effect of his success on his daughter.

Eminem is seeking to move further behind the scenes
"He's not the only rapper to feel that he's gone through this struggle, from being poor to being tremendously rich in only five years," she said.

"Then you've got these children of rappers, who will only know wealth. So they're going to have a completely different way of relating to their parents. He is aware of that."

Eminem's latest production work was an album of songs by late rapper Tupac Shakur, entitled Loyal To The Game.

He also remains a singer with the group D12, as well as having a fashion line and a radio station.

"We tended to always assume it would be pop acts, like J-Lo and Britney, that would create brands, but there is a lot of entrepreneurial spirit with rappers because they don't want to die, like Jackie Wilson, [and be buried] in an unmarked grave," Springer said.

"They don't want to have this tremendous wealth and have it just taken from them again.

"If you fail tremendously... you can't ever come back within the rap community. The rap community is pincer-sharp in how they relate to success and failure."

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