Last year, Eminem dropped his ninth album Revival to VERY lukewarm reviews. I reviewed the album last December and gave it a 6.5. It wasn’t the steaming dumpster fire of an album that everyone claimed it to be, but it was an extremely inconsistent experience with Eminem trying to give us multiple versions of himself. It wasn’t terrible, but it left much to be desired. I just wasn’t satisfied and yearned for more than just a rap/rock/pop album.
Fast forward to the end of August. I’m exiting my car while looking at my phone to see a friend posting about a surprise Eminem. I went to HipHopDX to see that Eminem indeed dropped a surprise album. I downloaded the fuck out that shit, and took a listen. Needless to say, my headphones and car stereo were not ready for the smoking hot Olympian fire that would grace me for the rest of the day. After two weeks straight of listening to this album, I no longer have a car, nor headphones. The both exploded because they both couldn’t handle any of the smoke Eminem dished out over the course of 45 minutes.
The album is short, sweet and to the point. The message here is also very consistent. Eminem has grown tired of the criticism he has received from musicians whose lyrical abilities are like that of a three year old coming off of anesthesia who just read a Dr. Seuss, and learned how to rhyme for the first time. The album opens with “The Ringer” which sets the tone for the rest of the album with shots at various rappers. We then transition into “The Greatest” where Eminem reestablishes himself as the best to ever do it while conveying the struggles of reaching a bar he set way too high.
We then jump into “Lucky You,” which features a now well established Joyner Lucas who has become quite the internet phenomenon. This track is really important because Eminem proves here that he’s not out of touch with younger talent, just the lack of it. We get a “Paul” interlude skit which hasn’t existed in an Eminem album since his 2009 album, Relapse. We move to the track “Normal,” which is a return to Eminem’s women bashing fare that serves as a metaphor for the rift between Eminem, his fans, and rap listeners. We get another “Paul” Interlude before we jump to “Steppingstone” which explores the breakup of his group D12. One really nice touch to this song is that it is produced in the style of an Eminem track from the era when the group hit its prime (2004-2006).
The next track up is “Not Alike” which interpolates/parodies Migos’ “Bad and Boujee.” The goal of the track is to show how little in common Eminem has with today’s mainstream rappers while mocking the style of beat, and flow. The track turns into a Machine Gun Kelly diss towards the end. “The Fall” is another track where Eminem fires more shots at rappers including Joe Budden, and Lord Jamar. “Nice Guy”/”Good Guy” are a pair of tracks that once again explore the confusing nature relationships. Nice Guy is interesting because it’s a nod to a track he wrote back in 1995 called “Jealousy Woes” from his debut album Infinite. Good Guy continues off of this where he mentions how confusing relationships can sometimes turn into good ones. This naming is interesting, because it is a play off of a track on The Marshall Mathers LP 2 called “Bad Guy”. The album ends Venom is from the motion picture of the same name.
After giving this over 30 listens, it is safe to say that this is hands down one of the best albums Eminem has put out in years. Eminem sets out to trash an entire sub-genre of hip hop while proving he can rock those same exact beats better than the artists who over use them. Eminem is as visceral as ever, and pulls no punches. No one is safe from the rage, and vitriol Eminem fleshes out on every track of this album. This is exactly the album I’ve been waiting for from him from years. My only gripe is that I wanted a just little more. 11 tracks (13 if you count the skits) feels short for an Eminem album, but its short length is what allows it to not drag like prior albums.
A valiant effort!
Flemmings Beaubrun is an avid gamer and lover of music. When not working, Flemmings likes to spend his time whipping up dank beats for the masses. He also spends his weekends thrift shopping for rare video games and obscure electronics. Other times he’s in front of a TV with a giant bowl of cereal enjoying shows from the 90s.