Eminem – Relapse Album Review
The place held by Marshall Mathers III as one of modern music’s greatest living wordsmiths has never really been in doubt. At the same time though, Eminem has struggled since the release of his magnum opus The Marshall Mathers LP to craft a cohesive album that lives up to his gargantuan talent levels.
Recorded after his much talked about stint in rehab for pill addiction, Hip Hop’s superman is back to revive a rather tired rap scene and cement his reputation as one of the all-time greats.
Based around his drug recovery, Relapse is the best rap concept album that could have been. While it starts off promisingly with the hilariously deadpan skit Dr. West, which segues into the maniacally bright murder manifesto 3AM (typical Eminem), Relapse goes into disappointing retreads and suffers creative withdrawals.
After his return to form with talk of “I thought I oughta drink his bath water, that oughta be fun/That’s when my days of serial murder manslaughter begun” on 3AM, it is rather sad to hear him go back to the same old sore points again on the very next track, My Mom, which finds him maliciously spitting about, you guessed it, his mother.
Some clever references and wordplay aside, it’s disappointing that he essentially squanders Dr. Dre’s rather inventive cultural collage on Bagpipes from Baghdad, turning it into an unnecessary (albeit at times humorous) attack on newlyweds Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey.
Despite this without of cohesion, it is ultimately rewarding enough to hear Eminem back doing what he does better than anyone. Relieved of production duties (which is in the care of the good Dr), Em is free to run amuck in the blood-lusting cartoon world he produced, as he relishes in taking lyrical risks and bashing pop culture figures (both dead and living).
Good old fashioned Hip Hop cuts like the Dr. Dre duet Old Time’s Sake and the aptly titled Insane (both complete with turntable scratches) are supremely entertaining moments. While the name could be applied to some of the other material on Relapse, Déjà Vu is another stellar outing, as he details his struggle to stay drug free. The closing track Underground, is just vintage Shady, as he flows like a madman over Dr. Dre’s off-beat opera.
If it wasn’t for his penchant for catchy couplets and his attacking the beat with the ferocity of a pit-bull, singles We Made You and Crack a Bottle would be ultimately forgettable fare in the vein of 2004’s Go Crazy. The same can’t be said for the likes of Same Song and Dance, Must be the Ganja and Hello, which move at a snail’s speed as already his creativity on the mic doesn’t help.
Ironically, Relapse proves that Eminem is at his best when raw and uncut, displaying an unrestrained passion that so many without. Free from the pressure of delivering a commercial monster, complete with ringtones and arena-friendly hooks, Eminem has put together what is his most unrestrained and creative work since 2000. At the end of the day, Relapse is not the moment typical fans were hoping for, but it is a damn fun ride.
obtainable by Shady/Interscope Records