EMINEM Revival gets 3/10

Eminem
Revival
Aftermath/Shady/Interscope

3/10

“Hey Eminem for your new album why don’t you go back to the sappy, overwrought style of mid-career ‘classic’ Recovery,” said no one ever. And yet Eminem obliges with this turgid effort. And as with Recovery and its similarly stinky predecessor Relapse, he makes sure to name this album starting with an ‘R’, for ‘Redundant’.

Eminem’s 2013 Marshall Mathers LP 2 was a surprising return to form, boasting a wide range of material that ran the gamut from self-reflective to cheekily self-referential, all while showcasing the rapper’s aggressive and dexterous flow. It had seemed that Eminem caught sight of what made him great in the first place. Alas, in a case of one step forward three steps back, Eminem throws those improvements into the wind and delivers us an album chock full of pretentious ballads, soulless cash-grab collabs and groan-inducingly obvious stabs at social commentary.

The guest spots are all weak. Walk on Water is a dull and frankly unrelatable ballad about the rapper’s insecurities in the wave of critics. River with Ed Sheeran is interminable, a tale about a relationship gone awry which will wrench your nerves rather than your heartstrings. Tragic Endings, Need Me and Bad Husband are virtually identical and all feature similarly horrific choruses. The latter is a conceptually bizarre piece, with the verses detailing Eminem’s crumbling relationship with his ex-wife, only for the choruses to inexplicably tout what a great father he is, for no reason other than he just is.

Eminem also tries his hand at some political commentary, but approaches it with all the subtlety of a brick to the face. Untouchable is an anti-racism rant which has its heart in the right place but reads like a Year 8 student’s history report. When compared to the nuanced menace rappers like Kendrick have brought to the table, it is almost quaint. Anti-Trump diatribe Like Home also means well but adds no fresh opinions to the conversation. Nor does it add anything fresh to Eminem’s own opinions for that matter, as his freestyle at the BET Awards already nailed his Trump sentiment more convincingly. Also he rhymes “General Lee” with “generally”. FFS.

And then there are the samples. “I walk on water, but I ain’t no Jesus,” Beyonce croons in her guest spot on the album opener, echoing the song’s sentiment that Eminem is not the God his fans view him to be. But he must consider his powers truly Godly to think he could carry an album with backing tracks this uninspired. Mired low in the mix to begin with, they range from monotonous to outright clumsy. Walk on Water is carried by hardly audible piano chords. Believe, Chloraseptic and Nowhere Fast are utterly forgettable exercises in trap stylistics. Ditto for the rest except the sad case of Remind Me, unintentionally memorable for its garish, unholy communion of Eminem’s ragged-voiced flow with I Love Rock ‘n Roll by Joan Jett. An aural carcrash.

Long story short, I don’t condone Eminem’s descent into Dad Rap and neither should you.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

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