Sparkly: 30 million fans can't be wrong

Encore  (Shady/Aftermath)

Why Eminem? The answer is easy. The man has gone diamond. I'm sure you've all heard of platinum plaques. When an artist reaches platinum status he has sold at least one million albums domestically. Diamond signifies the achievement of selling 10 million.

When an artist sells diamond, he has transcended whatever niche affiliation he may have and advanced to the status of super-pop, meaning that not only rebellious teenage males are buying Eminem's albums, but he is also selling to girls, women, black, white, Hispanic, tall, short... you name it, he has penetrated nearly every demographic (maybe even a red state or two). Eminem has sold close to 30 million albums!

Even if you don't like it, you gotta respect it. Marshall Mathers is not a fluke. Even though his most recent album, Encore, hasn't received the media hype of his last three, don't think this emcee/producer is close to falling off the boat. As a matter of fact, I'm thoroughly convinced that this album his best yet.

Love him or hate him, Eminem tackles big issues on Encore and does a pretty good job of it. He jokes on himself and his friends just as much as he does his critics and enemies. At times throughout the record he raps from the perspective of someone critiquing his own work.

On the very first song, "Evil Deeds," he laments, "Why am I so misunderstood?" Then he ridicules his own question: "Woe is me, there goes poor Marshall again whining about his millions and his mansion and his sorrow he's always drowning in... and the dad he never had, and how his childhood was so bad, and how his mom was a dope addict... I'd hate to have it as bad as Mr. Mathers."

Encore continues with "Yellow Brick Road," a blunt and somewhat disturbing look at what it was like growing up as a white fan of hip-hop in the '80s and '90s. "Like Toy Soldiers" follows, as straight-faced as the previous song. Things do get sillier when the intro to the song "Puke" begins with the sound of Eminem upchucking. The song itself is about his ex-wife. One gets the idea he still isn't fond of her.

On the dark driving song "My 1st Single" he raps, "This was supposed to be my first single, but I f*ck'd it up." In classic Eminem fashion, he punctuates the statement with a fart. He also takes shots at late night television host Conan O'Brien's infamous hand puppet, Triumph, on "Ass Like That." (You may not remember Eminem falling out with Conan on the air over Conan's antics with Triumph.)

The subject matter turns serious again on "Spend Some Time," the highlight of the album. The song also elevates Eminem's production skills to the level of rapping and features career-topping verses from label affiliates Obie Trice, Stat Quo, and 50 Cent.

For the rest of the album, the talk is very serious and emotional (save the final song). The beats are all dark and brooding, showing off the unparalleled artistry of Dr. Dre and his production/engineering team.

By the end of the album (all 23 tracks), you get the idea that Eminem hasn't changed; he has just grown up. Love him or hate him, he's an incredible lyricist and an entertaining character. He also doesn't hold anything back from his fans. That's why I will always buy his records.

And from the looks of it, so will 9,999,999 other people.