First off, a few of the people reading this are close friends who know that I’m a die-hard Eminem fan. That being said, I’m putting in 100% to being totally objective, and critiquing the album as an average listener. So to answer the question most people are wondering, “is this album yet another decline from the former Shady the world became a fan of?” From start to finish, no, Recovery is far better than his last two albums. This is very much a departure from the crazy accents of ‘Relapse’ or absence of substance of ‘Encore’. This is Em’s best album since ‘The Eminem Show’. He even goes so far as to admit that his last 2 albums were sub-par, and explains why. Although the first single off the album ‘Not Afraid’ was more about a message, and didn’t necessarily go too hard in the paint in terms of lyrical tenacity, the album as a whole is filled with classic Em-style punchlines.
“Rap is a landfill, [I'mma] drop the anvil, these are shoes that you can’t fill. Sh*t the day that THAT happens, the world will stop spinnin, and Michael J. Fox will come to a stand still.” – ‘Cold Wind Blows’
Everyone who’s listened to more than 2 of Em’s albums is fully aware of the issues he discusses. (His mother, his ex-wife, his children, being fed up with haters, so on and so forth.) But to the relief of casual listeners and fanatics alike, he moves on to some new topics that puts a spin on the typical light Em is seen in. Aside from his depression, he speaks about his jealousy of Lil Wayne and Kanye West’s success during the his hiatus, and even goes so far to admit that at the time if he would have started beef with Wayne, Em would have “gotten his ass handed to him.” (His words, not mine). He also gives props to Kanye in a different song on the album, and has a collab with Lil Wayne entitled “No Love”, which in MY personal opinion is not only lyrically the best song on the album, but lyrically the best song Em has put his energy into in a long time.
Some of the other collaborators on the album are quite new, (Pink, Rihanna) while some of the usual suspects are missing from the project (50 Cent, Dr. Dre, D12). This new set of pairings with Marshall Mathers are different, yet familiar. Actually hearing Pink on an Eminem track makes much more sense, than when you read about it online, or hearing someone talk about it. Regardless of the new people he’s chosen to work with on this one, it still sounds like an Eminem track, unlike Em on the ‘Lean Back’ remix with Fat Joe. Yet while the collabs may be strong, some of the choruses on songs he does by himself are a bit lax. (‘On Fire’, ‘So Bad’). They just make you miss the days when Slim Shady used to rap on a hook, instead of singing them all. But I don’t believe his singing is to blame, on some songs the punchlines are so intense, and the flow is the classic Shady that all the fans love, that the choruses are dwarfed by the verses.
In terms of Em going the overly commercial road like many said he did on ‘The Re Up’, there are very few songs that have that feel, but songs like ‘W.T.P.’ have beats that are perfect for the club, but contain content from Shady like “Man, first of all I’m a boss, I just want to get that across… Man even my dentist hates when I floss.” Obviously this may not be the Eminem fans were waiting to return, but for the premise of the song it works as well as it can. And in other songs like ‘Seduction’, he returns to the story telling style of rap that he adopted in his first 2 albums. The song ‘Seduction’ also has the feel of the ‘Superman’ track from ‘The Eminem Show’.
The beats on ‘Recovery’ were also outsourced to a couple of new producers including Just Blaze, and DJ Khalil, and provide the project with a refreshingly new sound, but still not too far of a departure from the familiar Eminem tracks fans love. Some of he beats (like the songs ‘No Love’ ft. Lil Wayne, and ‘Changes’) were sampled from old classic songs, and compliment the content of the track very well. And ‘No Love’ suits both Em and Wayne’s styles of rap very well. Although some songs are regrettably a bit similar to each other (’25 to Life’ and ‘Love The Way You Lie’ ft. Rihanna) one other noticeable difference is the absence of the classic skits that littered every other album, which to me personally isn’t a bad thing.
So, all things considered about Em’s 7th studio release, it’s a refreshing return to the Eminem fans grew to love. Crazy lyrics, and insane punchlines remind people why they liked any white rapper in the first place. The mood of the album is a bit somber, but it does come with many a high point for any listener to enjoy. So even tho there is a flaw or two, don’t expect to hear another ‘Encore’. In the track ‘Talkin 2 Myself’ Em apologizes to his fans for letting them down over the last few releases… Apology accepted.