Album Review: Eminem – Relapse

19 05 2009

eminem relapse

It’s been almost five years since Eminem released his last studio album Encore. The album stuck to Eminem’s traditional formula, but came off overly comical and was hailed as a disappointment by fans. Following Encore, Em when on a four year hiatus; releasing a greatest hits album and a Shady Records compilation. Aside from those, Marshall has been absent from appearances in the media and on wax. The anticipation then built for his next project Relapse, which is a head trip of stories of child molestation, murdering female celebrities, and drug addicted Mother’s. To fulfill everyone’s needs for a new album, Eminem collaborates with Dr. Dre for thorough production, and limited guest appearances.

4/5 – Strait Jacket Music

The album begins with an intro featuring The Wire’s Dominic West (better known as McNaulty) portraying the role of a Doctor. While Eminem’s previous albums opened up with public service announcements, or curtain opening, this time around it has an evil doctor persuading Em to go back to his old ways, hence the title Relapse. To set the tone of the project, the intro is followed up by the dark sounds of “3AM”, the non-mainstream single Eminem released where he apparently goes on a killing spree, but is unaware of his murders.
“3AM” is followed up by the usual ode to his Mother; Debbie Mathers titled “My Mom”. On “My Mom”, Em describes his Mother’s Valium addiction and the effect it had on him making it one of the more amusing songs from the album. On the disturbing “Insane”, Eminem vividly describes being molested by his Step-Father. To my knowledge, there isn’t any truth to the song, but it’s one of the rare tracks that feature’s Eminem rapping without the “accent” he uses throughout most of the project.
To continue the dark theme of the album, Em creates a story of kidnapping and murdering Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears ironically titled “Same Song and Dance”. He drops lines like “Now would you like to share a pill or two with me?/I’ll share my Valium with you cause I’m feeling you Britney/I’ll trade you a blue one for a pink one ever since at schoolgirl juvenile delinquent” over a flat Dr. Dre instrumental with heavy bass. The eerie tone of the album persists on “Stay Wide Awake” where Eminem welcomes listeners to the dark side. The frantic flow Eminem delivers compliments the chilling production and features some of the albums most shocking moments with bars such as “Heard of me before see whore your the girl that I’d a/Assault and rape and figure why not try to make your pussy wider/fuck you with an umbrella and open it up while the shits inside ya”
The overall sound of the album is gritty, but there are moments where it strays’s away from the noir tone. There’s the lead single “We Made You” which appears out of place, “Crack a Bottle”, and “For Old Time’s Sake”. With “For Old Time’s Sake” being one of the more radio friendly tracks, it has the potential to be a future single and could help promote Dr. Dre’s forthcoming album Detox. To bring the album to a closing, Eminem brings his most lyrical track on the album “Underground” which has an introduction similar to Marshall Mathers LP’s “Criminal” and his usual jabs at homosexuals.
In conclusion, Relapse is an above average album that gets better by the listen. The lyrical content is hard to grasp amongst the first couple of spins, and at times it’s hard to decipher with the flow and “accent” Eminem carries throughout the album. There are skippable tracks like “Hello” and “Bagpipes from Baghdad”, but Eminem makes up for them with gems like “Déjà Vu”, “Medicine Ball”, and my favorite track “Beautiful”. The album is far better than Encore, but in the same league of The Eminem Show.

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