Eminem, “Recovery” (Aftermath/Interscope)
Eminem’s latest album is called “Recovery,” but a better title might have been “Resurrection.” On his seventh studio release, Eminem has finally returned to form, which is to say he’s obnoxious, misogynistic, violent and often hurtful, but through it all, rarely short of brilliant.
After his last album, 2009’s “Relapse,” many wondered whether rap’s most successful and perhaps most talented rapper would ever do anything to merit the tag “brilliant” again. “Relapse” was a painful listen, with Eminem trying to recapture his former glory after four years off battling drug addiction. For Eminem, that meant an album that consisted mostly of tired insults and violent imagery without any of the wit that once accompanied it, making it charmless, humorless and forgettable.
Even Eminem acknowledges as much on “Recovery,” taking potshots at an album he now calls “trash”; on “Not Afraid,” he says, “Let’s be honest that last Relapse CD was ehh/perhaps I ran them accents into the ground, relax/I ain’t goin’ back to that now.”
What Eminem goes back to are the best elements that made him such a groundbreaking rapper when he made his debut over a decade ago: sick but hilarious humor; clever, biting lyrics and great storytelling. There is also more of Marshall Mathers than we’ve ever seen before on “Recovery” — and that’s a good thing.
Just as he did with a few songs on “Relapse,” Eminem details his painful battle with drug abuse with harrowing detail. But on “Recovery,” he gets more even personal, which makes his stories even more striking and heartfelt. On the gripping “Going Through Changes,” Eminem depicts a his miserable existence: grief-stricken over the killing of rapper and best friend Proof; addled by drugs and hating what he’s become — while his daughter watches his decline. “Yeah dad’s in a bad mood. he’s always snappin at you/Marshall, what’s happened that you/can’t stop with these pills and your fallin off with yer skills and your own fans are laughing at you?”
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