Eminem: Recovery | CD review

(Aftermath/Interscope)

The following correction was printed in the Observer's For the record column, Sunday 11 July 2010

"Cinderella Man", a track on Eminem's album Recovery was produced by Script Shepherd, not, as we said, Just Blaze

Eminem's sixth album, Recovery, comes pre-installed with the kind of histrionic fannying-about now featured as standard on high-profile US urban releases. As it's Eminem, all that fuss – the repeated postponements, renamings and leaks – is turned up to 11.

His last album, 2009's Relapse, marked the return of the rapper after a long addiction to prescription drugs; Recovery continues the process of trying to crowbar Marshall Mathers and his sweary soap opera (starring his multiple personalities) back into cultural relevance.

No Eminem album has ever really flopped – Relapse "only" sold 3 million; it won him his third Grammy – but hip-hop has moved relentlessly on since Eminem released his first three imperial albums.

Lil Wayne and Kanye West have become the genre leaders, a fact Eminem acknowledges on the engagingly self-flagellating "Talkin' 2 Myself". "The last two albums didn't count," Eminem sniffs, resolving to employ the zeal of the recently recovered to rhyme dextrously about doing vile things to women. ("Blood-sucking succubuses" apparently.)

Oh, he is terrible. Track one, "Cold Wind Blows", reiterates what a sick, sociopathic individual Eminem is, challenging all comers with shorty-hatin' abuse. But there's also an amusing bit where God strikes him down with lightning. "Ow!" he mugs, having now ticked off the box marked "the One That Re-establishes I Have Not Gone Soft".

It is hard to defend the indefensible, but while Eminem has said some unconscionable things in the past about womankind, he worries at length about being a good father to his daughter (and the two nieces he adopted from his ex-wife's sister).

If every latterday Eminem album is a long march through Mathers's contradictions, punctuated with splatter-flick levels of lyrical gore, this 16-track marathon (no skits) is better than average.

Best beat? The extraordinary stamp of "Cinderella Man" by producer Just Blaze, which sounds nothing like the standard-issue work of producer Dr Dre that usually accompanies Em.

What a shame, then, that Relapse is spearheaded by lumpen comeback single "Not Afraid". Rhyming "through a storm" with "whatever weather/ cold or warm" in the chorus is unforgivable for a master rhymer.

For a glimpse of that masterful figure, fast forward to "Almost Famous" and the casual drop of "antidisestablishmentarianism" into a heated diss, or the arresting "No Love", which pits a pinging Em in a friendly against Lil Wayne.

His Recovery will never be complete – only a time machine can work that magic – but, in bursts, Eminem's health is very nearly rude.

Contributor

Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Eminem: Kamikaze review – in full rabid underdog mode
(Aftermath/Interscope)

Kitty Empire

09, Sep, 2018 @7:00 AM

Article image
Eminem: Revival review – all woke up and nowhere to go
The demands of his core audience and bland beats hamper the rapper’s ninth album

Kitty Empire

17, Dec, 2017 @9:00 AM

Article image
Rihanna review – almost an emotional experience
A teary glimpse of the singer behind the star almost breaks new ground for the R&B ice queen

Kitty Empire

26, Jun, 2016 @8:00 AM

Article image
Eminem – review
The 40-year-old Eminem's career-spanning set is short on new material but his stage presence is as potent as ever, writes Luke Bainbridge

Luke Bainbridge

24, Aug, 2013 @11:06 PM

Article image
Eminem

Eminem's reputation as world's number one bad boy rapper precedes him. Amid scenes reminiscent of the Sex Pistols, his records have been banned by student unions. Prior to this opening night of his much- publicised UK visit, Manchester council and police forces placed restrictions on the show. Meanwhile, outside the venue, gay rights groups are up in arms about the singer's lyrical use of violent imagery and supposed homophobia. In front of police lines, people distribute leaflets claiming "Eminem has gone too far".

Dave Simpson

09, Feb, 2001 @12:00 AM

Eminem, Milton Keynes Bowl

Milton Keynes Bowl

Alexis Petridis

23, Jun, 2003 @1:24 AM

Article image
Lil Wayne: Funeral review – fearsome and full of life
(Young Money/Republic)

Kitty Empire

09, Feb, 2020 @9:00 AM

Eminem
The world's most maligned rapper performed at the Grammys with Elton John. Here's our guide to the best sites on the controversial sex symbol.

Simon Jeffery & Phil Hoad

22, Feb, 2001 @2:55 PM

Eminem: Recovery | CD review
It's a bit heavy on the soft rock samples, but Recovery shows Eminem can still manage more than self-parody, says Paul MacInnes

Paul MacInnes

17, Jun, 2010 @9:30 PM

Eminem and Elton - the ultimate duet

Eminem, the American rapper who has been accused of glorifying violence against women and homosexuals, has offered an olive branch to the gay community by asking Sir Elton John to sing with him at the Grammy Awards next week.

John Arlidge, media correspondent

11, Feb, 2001 @2:34 AM