Eminem knew what was on the line with Recovery, and while the title suggests sobriety, he’s now evoking a lyrical potency most associated with a heavily inebriatedperiod in his life. But, a cleaned up Marshall Mathers is good for music and indelibly good for his own career, by his own admission.
The first thing listeners notice with Recovery is the inclusion of a variety of producers, from Just Blaze to Havoc to Shady staples like Dr. Dre. The infusion of new energy bodes well for Eminem who had pups like Asher Roth and Yelawolf coming into his lyrical yard.
But, Eminem quickly reestablishes “whose yard is this,” as once spit by Beanie Sigel.
The aggressive tone is quickly established on “Cold Wind Blows,” with a ridiculously thumping beat by Just Blaze. “Eat s**t, her we go again,” Eminem sings before diving headfirst into a lyrical foray that truly obliterates nearly everything on the charts at the moment. “F**k it, I’m a loose cannong Bruce Banner’s back in the booth / Y’all are sitting duck, I’m the only goose standing.” He doesn’t stop there. Belligerence is a common thread on Recovery, and it is destined to satisfy the most critical blogger or board commentator. Songs like “Almost Famous,” “On Fire,” “Cinderella Man” and others evoke the early 2000’s. On “No Love,” Eminem seemingly trades his normal cohorts for Lil Wayne. Those familiar may be thrown from the sample from "What Is Love," originally crooned in 1993 club music singer Haddaway. After Wayne and Em bless the Just Blaze-produced song, they eradicate the idea of corny discos, silk shirts and men with mustaches.
Weirder still is Eminem’s ability to create songs for mass consumption without burning his fan base. The first single, “Not Afraid,” is not well liked by this reviewer, but that isn’t the case with other pop songs on the album. "Love the Way You Lie" (featuring Rihanna) delves deep into a toxic, addictive relationship with an equally addictive hook. “Won’t Back Down” gets down right grungy with Pink and definitely leans towards the rock-formatted stations, but not enough to isolate traditional fans. The chorus on “W.T.P.” (White Trash Party) soon get a lot of burn in Brooklyn, but perhaps it will resonate with Middle America’s trailer parks.
The final notable aspects to Recovery are the very lucid personal stories that Eminem crafts. On the Jim Jonsin-produced “Space Bound,” Eminem revisits the love-gone-bad theme but with totally different results. He travels in the opposite direction on “Seduction,” where he employs his rap skills to steal another emcee’s girl. “Let me slow it down some/ its still gonna be a blowout, you’re gonna wanna throw out your whole album.” Em spews. “25 To Life” will surprise listeners on the first listen, as Em gives and old concept a spit-shine. With in-your-face honesty, Eminem raps about his friend Proof on "You're Never Over.” “This depression ain’t taking me hostage/ I been patiently watching/ This game pacing these hallways / You had faith in me always / Proof, you knew I would come out of this slump / Rise from these ashes / Come right back on their asses / go Mike Tyson on these bastards,” Em says with conviction.
Eminem has indeed emerged a different person. There has been much dialogue about his recent sobriety, but it seems like Eminem has found other aspects of his existence that are more important that getting high. Recovery oozes dopeness, commercialviably and sincerity in equal parts. “F**k my last CD, that s**ts in the trash,” Eminem raps on Recovery. Fortunately, he’s completely redeemed himself and has constructed an opus that is certain to be recycled for years to come.
PS: A special nod goes to all of the producers that laid down the backdrop to the album, because they provided a superior audio change to Eminem’s life changes. Another nod goes to the bonus songs with Slaughterhouse ("Session One") and a new Dr. Dre-produced song, "Ridaz." Click here for those. And, yes...this is Em's best album since The Marshall Mathers LP.