In his follow-up to last year’s lackluster Relapse release, Eminem fully redeems himself with the incredibly dark and introspective Recovery. Despite still being catchy and well thought out, the beats are noticeably more melancholy, perfectly matching his heavy lyrical content. Long gone are the annoying sound effects and fluctuating vocal tones and skits that Eminem was known for in his hungry days. What has evolved is an effort full of reflections from his tumultuous career, offering a clear view into the struggles he’s faced recently.
Opening with the first single, “Cold Wind Blows,” Eminem tries to make an attempt at reminding everyone that he’s back with his characteristic one-liners and jabs. He barely succeeds, but is convincing. Unlike his earlier days, there aren’t a whole lot of shots at other rappers or celebrities, he does manage to get one in at Mariah Carey at the end of the first verse with “…take a look at Mariah the next time I inspire you to write a song.”
The shift in mood from “Cold Wind Blows” to “Talkin’ 2 Myself,” the second track, is very representative of the contrasts that flow through Recovery. Eminem’s true anguish and pain suffered from the aftershocks of achieving his level of fame and notoriety is brutally detailed, almost to the point where it’s painful to listen to. He explains the jealousy he felt when Lil Wayne started blowing up and when Kanye West was in everyone’s conversations, and just how devastating the lack of attention on him really was. He even goes so far as to apologize to his fans for his last two albums, both of which he says, “I got something to prove to my fans ‘cause I feel like I let ‘em down / So please accept my apology, I finally feel like I’m back to normal.”
The record continues on like this, walking the fence between reflective pontification and venomous punchlines. No big surprises with guest appearances on this record, with Pink lending an infectious hook on “Won’t Back Down,” Lil Wayne’s lazy verse on “No Love,” and Rhianna (and yes, her vocal pattern is the exact same as it is on every other song she’s ever appeared on) singing a chorus on “Love the Way You Lie.” Eminem himself ups his singing contributions, something he hasn’t done too much of up until now.
Even though the anticipated mentions of Slim Shady are few and far in between, the scathing “25 to Life,” about his ex-wife, Kim, was expected and delivers. He also opens up about the example he has set so far to his daughters on “Going Through Changes,” another song that shows just to what extent of tumult his life has been in. The loss of his close childhood friend and D12 cohort, Proof, obviously devastated Eminem, as Proof is mentioned repeatedly throughout Recovery, and the final track, “You’re Never Over,” is about him.
At first listen, the differences from Eminem circa 1998 to Eminem circa 2010 are astoundingly varied. His notoriously obnoxious attitude and early rhythmic rapid fire delivery have been replaced with a more reserved, jaded, and prudent vibe, still delivered with his unique style. Although it’s less acrobatic, it’s nothing to dismiss. Any preconceived notions of what a new Eminem record is assumed to be should be tossed out. Quite possibly, Recovery could be the opus of his career; the American Idiot to Green Day or The Wall to Pink Floyd.
Written By Andy Giesen