Encore is the fifth studio album by American rapper Eminem. It was released on November 12, 2004, by Aftermath Entertainment, Shady Records, and Interscope Records. Its release date was originally set for November 17, 2004, but Eminem moved the release date to five days earlier after the album was leaked to the internet. As reflected on the album cover— Eminem taking a bow—the album was widely considered to be Eminem's final album of new material.
The album contains several lyrical themes, most notably Eminem's opposition to then-President of the United States George W. Bush and a parody of Michael Jackson. The album features more comedic themes and lyrics than Eminem's previous albums.
Critical reception of Encore was less favorable than Eminem's previous albums, with most of the second half being heavily criticized for its lackluster quality and lack of lyrical content, though "Mockingbird" and "Like Toy Soldiers" were particularly highly praised and retrospectively have been noted as being some of Eminem's best songs. The album has sold 11 million copies worldwide and was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on December 17, 2004.
Encore provoked some controversy over anti-Bush lyrics and lyrics that parodied and targeted Jackson, who was upset about Eminem's depiction of him in the video for "Just Lose It".
The album contains several lyrical themes, including Eminem's relationship with his ex-wife, Kim, ("Puke", and "Love You More"), their daughter Hailie Jade Mathers ("Mockingbird"), his childhood ("Yellow Brick Road"), his relationships with his parents ("Evil Deeds"), and opposition to then-American President George W. Bush ("Mosh" and "We As Americans") "Just Lose It" is a parody of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean", as well as his Pepsi commercial accident in 1984. Similar to Eminem's previous album, The Eminem Show, Encore opens with a skit called "Curtains Up", indicative of the start of the show, and closes with "Curtains Down", indicative of the end.
Simultaneously with the original, a censored version was released, from which most of the profanities, violent and sexual content, as well the drug references had been edited out. "My 1st Single" has a bleep for the word "fuck" instead of a muted part on the hook: "This was supposed to be my first single, but I just fucked that off so... Fuck it let's all have fun let's mingle", the lines: "Smack a bitch and slap a ho" changed to "Grab a chick and Do-si-do". The second and third verses were edited with the words "Kim", "Pornos", "Fucking", and "Cum" on the second verse changed to the words; "Frickin", "Videos", "Cussing", and "Puff" (with an added explosion noise) respectively, and the third verse editing the word "Cock" with a chicken noise, and having "Dick" replaced with "Duck", along with the censored bleeps in replacement for the word "Fuck" as used on the hook. "Puke" has the word "Fucking" changed to "Fricking" throughout the song, "Shit" being replaced with "Shoot" near the end of the first verse, with the second verse being censored extensively with the line "You're a fucking cokehead slut, I hope you fucking die" changed to: "You're a freaking piece of poop, I hope you freaking die", and "I hate your fucking guts, you fucking slut" changed to "I hate your freaking guts, you piece of poop". On "Just Lose It", the first verse censors "Molestation" with "Investigation". In "We as Americans" the words dead was back masked in both clean and explicit versions of the song, due to an investigation for the lyrics; "Fuck money, I don't rap for dead presidents, I'd rather see the president ". The word "ass" is left uncensored in "Yellow Brick Road", "One Shot 2 Shot", "Encore" and "We As Americans". However, it is censored out in "Ass Like That", "Mosh", "Spend Some Time", "My 1st Single", and "Just Lose It" (In this song's case, replaced with "Thing"), with the song "Rain Man", the word "ass" is used twice, but only censored once. The word "goddamn" was left uncensored in "Spend Some Time” while "Yellow Brick Road" leaves "goddamn" uncensored once. Other profanities on all other songs are blanked out; and the song "Ass Like That" is listed as "A** Like That". "Encore" has the shooting sequence at the end of the track removed on the censored album. "One Shot 2 Shot" has the violent content edited removing the intro and the word "shot" throughout the song. However, the original title remains written on the back cover.
The album featured two covers, the first cover features Eminem standing in front of an audience, bowing to the crowd. The tray insert features Eminem holding a gun behind his back. The inlay shows Eminem holding the pistol in his mouth without the jacket of his shirt and tie. The CD itself shows a note written by Eminem saying "To my family & all my friends, thank you for everything, I will always love you. To my fans, I'm Sorry, Marshall" with a bullet underneath the note. The note is also seen in the album's booklet, where Eminem is writing the note. Some pictures show Eminem shooting everybody, which makes a reference to the ending of the album's title track. The second cover features the same audience from the inlay on a black background with a blood splat on the top right. This cover is used for the Shady Collector's Edition.
Encore received generally positive reviews from critics, but received more of a negative response compared to his past 3 albums. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 64, based on 26 reviews. Josh Love from Stylus Magazine felt Eminem was "dying" with this album, whose concept was "end-to-end mea culpa", full of "clarifications, rectifications and excuses", revising the history of "a man who knows he doesn't have much time left". Scott Plangenhoef, writing for Pitchfork Media called Encore a "transitional record" and "the sound of a man who seems bored of re-branding and playing celebrity games". BBC Music's Adam Webb believed it starts "fantastically" but ends "abominably", writing that it has too many "low points". David Browne from Entertainment Weekly said Eminem "sacrifices the rich, multi-textured productions" of his two previous albums for "thug-life monotony, cultural zingers for petty music-biz score-settling, and probing self-analysis for juvenile humor". He concluded his review by saying that Eminem has become "predictable" on Encore, something that he wasn't before.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine was more enthusiastic in his review for AllMusic, calling the music "spartan", built on "simple unadorned beats and keyboard loops", and the lyrics "plain-spoken and literal". Robert Christgau said Eminem still sounded "funny, catchy and clever, and irreverent past his allotted time", noting that even the bonus tracks "keep on pushing". In Rolling Stone, he wrote that Encore was not as "astonishing" as The Marshall Mathers LP, but praised Eminem for maturing his lyrical abilities while retaining his sense of humor. Steve Jones from USA Today also spoke positively about the album, calling Eminem's producing and lyrical skills as "top-flight" and noting that the record explores "the many sides of Marshall Mathers". The album earned Eminem Grammy Award nominations in three categories at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards: Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for the song "Encore", and Best Rap Solo Performance for the song "Mockingbird".
Encore provoked some controversy over anti-Bush lyrics and lyrics that parodied and targeted Michael Jackson, who was upset about Eminem's depiction of him in the video for "Just Lose It". On December 8, 2003, the United States Secret Service admitted it was "looking into" allegations that Eminem had threatened the President of the United States, George Bush, after the song "We as Americans", as an unreleased bootleg, circulated with the lyrics "Fuck money, I don't rap for dead presidents. I'd rather see the president dead." This line was eventually used as a sample in Immortal Technique's single "Bin Laden", which featured Mos Def and Chuck D. The incident was later referenced in the video for his song "Mosh" as one several news clips on a wall, along with other newspaper articles about other unfortunate incidents in Bush's career. The song eventually appeared on the album's bonus disc, with the word "dead" being reversed.
About the album's reception, Eminem said: "I’m cool with probably half that album. I recorded that towards the height of my addiction. I remember four songs leaked and I had to go to L.A. and get Dre and record new ones. I was in a room by myself writing songs in 25, 30 minutes because we had to get it done, and what came out was so goofy. That’s how I ended up making songs like “Rain Man” and “Big Weenie.” They're pretty out there. If those other songs hadn't leaked, Encore would’ve been a different album." In the Kamikaze interview he did with Sway Calloway, although he stated that "Encore... not what I would consider one of my better albums", in the same interview, he considered it better than its follow-up Relapse. .