Before he went on hiatus for five years, Eminem dropped Encore. After three massive successes with The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, and The Eminem Show, he sounded uninspired. It seemed like maybe he was getting complacent and writer's block had finally snuck in and gotten the best of him once and for all. The "poo poo" and "bunghole" raps just came across as a final effort to grasp onto the kind of in-your-face, childishly offensive rap that had shocked people previously, and his attempts at being inspirational felt forced and watered down. It simply didn't work.
The main reason that hating on this album is unfair is because during the making of it, Eminem was desperately consumed by a pill addiction. It would be five years until he returned to the scene without all the drugs flowing through his system, but we give him credit-even when he was mentally checked out, physically falling apart, and dealing with a heavy burden mostly hidden from the world, he still managed to rap better than most rappers could ever hope to. The content may not have been up to par, but listen to the intricately woven flow of "Rain Man" or the energy of "Never Enough" and you have to appreciate that a debilitated Eminem was pulling this off while going through one of the darkest times of his life.