Eminem is back to the angry, humorous, and irreverent style that made him famous, a combination that is once again given the ability to combine, spark, and react. Recovery
is very self-aware and self-referential, even in title...Em struggled with drugs and two bombed albums before this, something that can stifle even the most rabid fan base. Now Eminem is back, strapped with bells and whistles, a collection of hearty "f-you"s to various people famous and infamous, real and imaginary. Eminem is once again a clever, composed, and interesting emcee with a flow as nasty as his temper.
The first noticeable difference on Recovery
is the sound. Eminem just blows through verses, using the beat as his sails, and his old gimmicky sound effects as a rudder (note lighting and a modified God voice, all on the first track). "Cold Wind Blows" is kind of a mission statement for the album, Em knows he hasn't been all over his game the past few years "You all don't look too happy to see me". His verse covers the usual Eminem territory (dicks, segue into celebrity cracks, balls, etc), but for the first time in several years it feels like he actually means it. The flow is there. Tune out the words and hear how Eminem just kind of rides the beat with his syllables... twisting pronunciations and accents is an art, and Eminem is a Picasso with his distortions.
The second thing is Eminem's humility. He readily admits his past efforts have been flimsy, he had a real problem with pills, and he was jealous of his contemporaries (including Lil Wayne, who makes an appearance on a later track sampling the Haddaway classic "What Is Love"). Recovery
is as much about making amends with his fellow musicians as with the audience.
Despite being fierce more often than not, there are a few puns and overused metaphors that feel forced or silly, but that's all part of the Eminem we know and love. He is the "jokes my dad would make" of rappers. Sure there are a few super sappy songs, notably "Not Afraid" and "Spaceman", but like some of the best music out there, these are therapeutic cuts for Em and emote an admirable amount of sincerity, even if they are kind of cheesy.
"Love The Way You Lie (Ft. Rihanna)" and other songs that sound like radio singles remixed with Em rapping over them are peppered all over the album, and they are all pretty good. Eminem does the melancholy-soaked anthem well, especially when it's personal (and Recovery
is as personal as it gets). But the best parts of Recovery
are songs like "Cinderella Man" and "White Trash Party". They read like goofy satire, and that is the real meat of Eminem... his ability to parody himself and the world around him. Naturally, this isn't the best rap album of the year, but Eminem is just so much damn fun to listen to, it's hard to deny him. The world lost Eminem to drugs and depression for a long time, and we're happy to have him back on his feet, even if he still occasionally walks in the wrong direction. -joe puglisi
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MP3: "Cold Wind Blows"
Eminem on Myspace