Eminem – Relapse

I never thought i would be in this position. Reviewing an album by Eminem of all people? A bit of a history lesson… In 6th grade, when The Slim Shady LP was released, I was still a pop music/culture kind of guy. I had yet to discover the joys of indie music, and as such was impressionable enough to  buy and enjoy it. And to be honest, I still might. I haven’t listened to it in years, as I decided to grow up and listen to something other than foul-mouthed white rappers with mommy issues. It took me 3 albums of his to learn this lesson. By the time his 4th was released, i had fully moved on, with no interest in it at all. Then he slipped into annonymity. Finally right? The first i heard of Eminem recording a new album was the single “Crack a Bottle”, which was on every pop station on the east coast, seemingly on repeat in the middle of March. It was a throwaway pop single, but it marked the return of Eminem into the public collective music scene.

This piqued my curiosity. What was it about Eminem that made me so enamored with his work in the late ’90’s and early 2000’s? Would this still hold up upon another listen today? I decided to find out, and give Relapse a chance. I tossed it into my player, expecting something, but not sure what. The first track was about Dr. West, supposedly Eminem’s rehab doctor, telling him not to worry about the steps of rehab, just give int0 temptation. Great message, eh? Anyway, the next track s where the album starts, for real. The first track starts off witha fairly generic beat, and Eminem’s voice comes in, his flow identical to the last album he cut. But then it starts…the pure and unadulterated whoreishness of the album. I can’t listen to it all again, but there are so many pop culture references the album might has well have been commissioned by Hannah Montana and Kim Kardashian. Over the course of the album, he talks about masturbating to watching Hannah Montana, having a relationship with Mariah Carey, and a whole host of other things that the average listener will identify with, and i suppose this would add credibility with the fan base?? The bridge of the track “3AM” is basically just Buffalo Bill’s speech from Silence of the Lambs”…“It puts the lotion on its skin….”Pointless…

I’m not sure what purpose these references serve, or why there needed to be so many in the songs. If it isn’t pop culture, it is his mother. He seems to be falling back on old crutches that made him the icon he was. Remember when a song about Eminem’s mom didn’t sounds like a rehash of 10 other songs? Most peopel who buy this album i will assume are too young to know the full extent of his mommy issues, and will not be as bothered as i am.

Those are my main issues, but i feel like i need to justify my postion from a music fans perspective. Eminem has talent. His flow is certainly distinctive, and when he is in his groove, there are few people who can match his style or energy. But it seems like he is stuck in a rut, and making the same record as last time, however many years ago that was. Eminem’s production has suffered since he has taken over from Dr. Dre. Dre, who produced the beats for Em’s first and second albums guests here, but the production is more consistent with Em’s own productions than Dre’s. His beats tend to be more simplistic, but also more bombastic somehow, more in your face than Dre’s. It doesn’t suit his style of vocal play, he was better when the subject matter was silly, or very serious, but offset with a complex, yet somehow simple beat.

I think i found what it is that drove me away from Eminem int he first place, aside from growing chest hair and a more discerning set of ears…and it is the complete loss of fun in the lyrics. I used to think that Eminem was trying to be offensive, saying things that were going to upset people because he like the publicity. But i realized that it seems to be his only vocabulary. There is nothing on this album that shows me that he is evn trying anymore. How many songs can you make that talk about killing people, hating your mother, and how much of a badass killer you are? Appaently after a 4 year break, he came up with 16 songs and 4 skits that follow his same formula.
The wordplay is weak, the rhymes would be suited to come out of the mouth of a 15 year old boy trying to be cool and learning to swear and say naughty things, and the beats leave me fealing bored and wishing for the days when listening to his foul-mouthed stories waqs fresh.

2/5

PS: I dont know how many peopl this bothers, but a lyrics from this album goes “It was 3am in the morning…” Hopefully as a 35 (approx) year old man, i figured Eminem woudl be able to tell that AM means morning, so this is a redundant statement.

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