Release Date: Dec 15, 2017
Record label: Aftermath
Genre(s): Rap, Hardcore Rap
Another politically motivated Rust Belt blond, Paul Newman, once said "a man with no enemies is a man with no character." And few musicians could boast more of either than Eminem, the poison-tongued, potty-mouthed scourge of Lynn Cheney, boy bands, clown posses and eventually – on a string of self-auditing post-rehab albums – himself. But, at 45, he hasn't had a good pop-culture feud in ages, and his pill-popping days of vice are behind him. Eminem has long been pushed to the edge and all his foes are dead.
It's always tough for a veteran artist to make a comeback. In Eminem's case with his ninth studio album Revival, he stuck to his guns and didn't try to change much of the style we're very familiar with. If there's one word to describe Revival, and this shouldn't surprise anyone, it's volatile. Topics of shattered romance, self-hatred, hypersexuality, politics and overall regret permeate this album.
To continually point out the obviousness of Eminem being past his prime seriously negates all the good he still brings to the Hip Hop table. Mr. Marshall Mathers unequivocally exists as one of the best MCs to ever wield a microphone but the title he arguably holds with undisputed repose is being the best rhymer of all-time. Like his unappreciated 2010 interview with Anderson Cooper attested to, Eminem is Hip Hop; he's the kid with the notebook who tunes out the rest of the world to squeeze codas out of diction regardless if the English language agrees or not.
Eminem's long-anticipated ninth album, Revival, has already received an extremely mixed response online. One dismayed fan tweeted: "Hurts my soul to say this, but this is a terrible listen." Well, that's perhaps a little harsh. The album finds a newly woke Marshall Mathers stumble through some clumsy rhymes and lumpen beats, yet on the whole he sounds freshly energised and inspired through its 19 tracks.
"Am I lucky to be around this long?" Eminem wonders this on "Walk on Water," the first track on his 2017 album, Revival, which arrives when the 20th anniversary of his 1999 debut, The Slim Shady LP, is just 14 months away. Aging is never easy for a star but it may be harder for Marshall Mathers, since his earliest records were equal parts rage and pranks -- emotions that tend to mellow as the years stack up. Underneath all that attention-grabbing bluster lay Eminem's boundless technical proficiency, which was the real reason he scored a monumental breakthrough in 1999 and sustained a career.
Earlier this fall, Eminem dropped “The Storm,” a freestyle cut in which he spent nearly four-and-a-half minutes laying waste to the president of the United States. “Trump, when it comes to givin' a shit, you're as stingy as I am/Except when it comes to havin' the balls to go against me, you hide 'em,” he raps, in what has to be one of the more remarkable verbal broadsides ever delivered to a sitting president. Full of laser-focused fury, righteous anger at a whole host of societal ills, the track made the 45-year-old MC seem, however briefly, seem relevant again.
Few texts in hip-hop are as bizarre as Eminem’s debut LP, Infinite. Released on a local Detroit label in 1996, it was either ignored or dismissed by those who rejected his whiteness and his borrowed aesthetic. Were it released in 2017, it might be celebrated for its scholarship of the form’s early classics, a la Joey Bada$$ or Roc Marciano. Instead, he was written off as a swagger jacker who sounded too much like Nas and AZ. The criticism burned, and from that fire he formed his alter ego, Slim Shady.
E minem has been older and theoretically wiser now for almost as long as he was Slim Shady - a rapper obsessed with outrage and doing unspeakable things to his ex-wife, Kim. It is worth remembering what a nasty piece of work this exquisitely talented rapper has been, as you contemplate Revival, his ninth album. The cover finds Marshall Mathers literally face palming, the US stars and stripes superimposed over his despair.
L adies and gentlemen, we have a winner. For the last 20 years, two technically versatile and emotionally literate rappers have been vying for the title of "biggest tin ear for beats". Sorry, Nas: you've been roundly trounced at last. Production-wise, Revival is a trainwreck. If Eminem thinks his ….
If you want a sense of where America has gone since Eminem last released an album, the notes are brief; spurred by globalization, and the cultural motioning toward decency and respect, more than 60 million voters looked at a ballot that put a polished, milquetoast bureaucrat up against a crude, boorish game show host, and sided with the game show host. Many have since passed comment on that blunder. Many haven’t had anything profound to say about it.
Oh, Marshall. When critics savaged Recovery, there may have been more than a healthy dose of 'kill your idols' at play. After all, he set out to make a direct pop record, and the album certainly succeeded at least in that sense. In 2017, tearing the aging icon apart is far less fun. Let's get it ….
After seeing Eminem's "Revival" on so many of our Year 2017 in Review lists, I decided it was time to take on this review. It's not as though I had a sudden revelation that covering a new Eminem album was overdue. The album dropped in December so it's not "long overdue" as such, but I've still been counting every day since it came out knowing we needed to make our statement about it.
No one has made the real time devolution from impossibly famous superstar to singular case study like Eminem has. In 2017, his legacy as a gifted rapper is centered on the dichotomy of his appeal. Marshall Mathers.