Recovery makes up for relapse
In its first week on the shelves, Eminem’s sixth studio album Recovery sold 741,000 copies, and the Detroit rapper is back on top of his game… sort of.
On his last album, Relapse, Eminem sang with an accent, rapped his darkest verses since The Slim Shady LP and never finished a track with a laugh or told listeners he was just kidding.
“Maybe he just needs a new therapist,” said Ann Powers in a Los Angeles Times review of Relapse. “It’s an impressively focused and clever work. But this music is not transcendent. It’s still stuck in [Eminem]’s muck, his fundamental mistrust of pleasure and love.”
On Recovery — within the first 10 minutes, in fact — Eminem denounces both Relapse and Encore, the album that preceded Relapse: “Them last two albums didn’t count; [on] Encore, I was on drugs and [on] Relapse, I was flushing them out.”
And throughout the rest of the album, he continues to dismiss his last two CDs as a failure to fans. Fans of Eminem (and even his critics) didn’t see it quite this way, but his finished product is definitely stronger this time around. He continues to push the envelope the way he used to, raps about his ex-wife and even angrily address hip-hop as a person whom he can no longer love, a feat not well-executed since Common’s “Used To Love H.E.R.,” which came out way back in 1994.
His first single, “Not Afraid,” has received nearly 40 million views on YouTube since it was uploaded a month ago, and his second single, “Love The Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna (and interestingly about an abusive relationship), is performing quite well, too.
But what about the actual content on the album? Eminem’s original appeal was his disinterested attitude. As he wrote verses condemning homosexuals, the clergy, women and suburban parents, the media asked, “Why would you do this? What are you trying to accomplish?” And Eminem’s response was merely, “Because.” Like a snot-nosed, rebellious child, Eminem pushed people’s buttons just for the hell of it, but as his career continued, his rhymes became more content-oriented, and while he continued to upset parents and conservatives alike, much of his raps became substantial, addressing issues like the government, his personal struggles and the importance of his relationship with his daughter, Hailey. Many fans and critics criticized Eminem for the darker and darker directions in which he kept taking his albums.
Then, in 2004 right after the release of Encore, Eminem disappeared from the public eye for nearly six years. Upon his return, he told fans of his drug problem, which stemmed from the death of his best friend in a shooting, and he said he had kicked the habit, and he quickly released Relapse, which was arguably his darkest album (no small feat for Eminem). But on Recovery, fans see a new side of Eminem. Now, not only is Eminem clean, he seems to have come to peace with himself. On the album, he talks about dealing with the death of his friend, his primary role as a father and his career as a rapper being an afterthought and his endurance to continue to be what fans want to hear.
Originally, Eminem was a flavor of the week turned genius. Then, he dropped from genius to a has-been. Recovery finds Eminem somewhere in between, but content with his current circumstances and determined to make it work, if not for his sake, then for his daughter’s. The album is dark and quite self-indulgent, but when you almost kill yourself and don’t die because you realize you have something to live for, that’s kind of expected.