Eminem Bounces Back with “Recovery”

James Cullinane

Eminem returns to the top with "Recovery"
Eminem returns to the top with "Recovery"

One could argue that over the past decade, no solo artist has had an impact more significant on their genre than Eminem.  From his major label debut in 1998, “The Slim Shady LP”, to what many thought would be his farewell record, “Encore”, released in 2005, Eminem ruled the hip hop world.  However, during a three year hiatus beginning in 2005, many believed the era of Slim Shady had come to an end.  Marshall Mathers, the man behind the Slim Shady persona, was in the midst of a battle against an addiction to sleeping pills.  Mathers’ severe drug problem would bring about the hiatus which many believed would be the end of his career.

However, in September of 2008, Shady announced his intentions of releasing a sixth major studio album entitled “Relapse”.  Fresh out of rehab, Mathers appeared to be eager to get back in front of the mic.  “Relapse” became one of the most anticipated albums of 2009 as fans and skeptics alike wondered if Eminem would still possess the skills that helped make him one of the most celebrated hip hop artists of all time.  In May of 2009, “Relapse” was finally released.  To the chagrin of many Shady supporters, “Relapse” lacked the fire that has made Eminem one of the most influential artists in recent history.  Despite “Relapse” being a commercial success, true Eminem enthusiasts considered his most recent album to be a disappointment.  Shady vowed to return to his old ways, leaving behind commercial hip hop, and to do what he does best, be himself.

On June 18, 2010, Eminem released his seventh studio album, “Recovery”.  If  anything, the collosal dissapointment which was “Relapse”, only increased anticipation for “Recovery”.  Despite his disappointing comeback attempt in 2009, “Recovery” was undoubtedly Eminem’s most anticipated album in the past decade.  For the first time in his career, Shady was the underdog.  At 37 years of age, the chance of Eminem making a successful comeback had been greatly diminished, especially after the release of “Relapse”.  However, “Recovery” became an instant success, debuting at the top of the Billboard Top 100 Charts.

The long awaited return of the “Real Slim Shady” had finally arrived, leaving the hip hop world in nothing short of shock and awe.  “Recovery” truely possesses all the necessary components to be a classic album, with smash-hit singles (Love the Way You Lie, Not Afraid), to exuberant party songs (W.T.P.), all blended masterfully between an array of classic Slim Shady anthems (Cold Wind Blows, Cinderella Man, 25 to Life). This new found musical diversity perfectly complements Eminem’s powerful, often turbulent, and yet humorous lyrics.

“Cold Wind Blows”, the first track on “Recovery”, is approximately five minutes long.  In these five minutes, Eminem firmly reestablishes himself as one of the top artists in the hip hop industry.  He delivers powerful lyrics with an incredible ferocity in his voice, reminding listeners of the old Eminem.  Next, “Talkin’ 2 Myself”, a personal address to Eminem fans, apologizes for his recent struggles, Shady proudly proclaims “The new me is back to the old me”, and acknowledges that he is back at the top of his game for good.

Unlike the majority of early Eminem albums, “Recovery” features an abundance of collaborations with other prominent musicians.  “No Love”, featuring Shady’s fellow rap king, Lil’ Wayne, showcases the imbalance of power in the hip hop world, with the triple beam leaning towards this talented duo.  The most recognizable song on the album, “Love the Way You Lie”, is an all star collaboration between Eminem and Rihanna.  This widespreaded anthem centers around the dangers of domestic violence, a subject that has had both of these figures in the public light in the past. Eminem also channels his inner rock and roller on “Going Through Changes”, an emotional song featuring a sampled chorus from Black Sabbath.  This track may bring listeners back to “The Eminem Show” hit “Sing for the Moment”.  One of the more unlikely collaborations on “Recovery” is “Won’t Back Down”, on which Pink adds a passionate chorus relaying the message of this track to a degree that even Shady doesn’t match.  Eminem’s willingness to collaborate with artists of such a wide variety of genres helped to seperate “Recovery” from the common hip hop record.

Eminem’s performance on “Recovery” at the age of 37, proves to listeners that talent does not always have an expiration date.  Eminem’s unparalleled lyrical prowess, combined with tracks from the best producers in hip hop, makes “Recovery” a masterpiece from start to finish.