Music review: Relapse

eminem_relapse1Not that many people are really checking for Eminem anymore. After the atrocity that was “Encore,” the discussion about Em joining the rap elite fell silent, crushed under audible abortions like “Ass Like That” and “Puke.”

Five years have passed since then, and they’ve been busy for the man named Marshall Mathers. There was the death of his longtime friend Proof, the neverending drama between Em and estranged wife Kim, rumors that he had ballooned in weight and a crippling pill addiction. All this sounds like ripe material for a great album in the vein of “The Marshall Mathers LP,” but alas, that Eminem has long left the building.

What we have now is a comedian of sorts, with a very dark worldview. Eminem’s raps may have a toehold in reality, but the exaggerations and grotesqueries of his rhymes have reduced his words into a slasher movie – entertaining, but ultimately lightweight.

All that to say is “Relapse” is a tolerable album, one that even has a couple of good songs (“Underground” “Insane”) yet ultimately must be considered a disappointment given the talent involved.

Most of the blame must be laid at the feet of Eminem, who inexplicably continues to use the annoying, nasally voice he featured on Encore, which to most people sounds like a cross between Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and a stereotypical Arab male. Why no one has called him out on this is beyond me – it is a distracting presence on a large majority of songs.

Another demerit is Em’s continued use of the same tropes he has discussed over his entire career – trashing his mother, his ex and random celebrities. Sure, “My Mom” tells a different story, but c’mon, how much do we really need to know about Debbie Mathers? And going back to the Mariah Carey well? Surely, something more interesting has happened to Eminem since their brief fling.

Em’s not alone in the album’s failings, however. Dr. Dre, the once-legendary producer, is merely a shell of his former self, as the breathtaking sonic landscapes he’s created in the past have been reduced to simple noodlings bereft of any depth. In other words, the beats suck. “Crack a Bottle” and “We Made You” are terrible, even by Eminem’s “commercial single” standards. Dre’s work on the boards made me even less interested to hear “Detox.”

Apparently, Eminem was so rejuvenated by making this album that “Relapse 2” is coming later this year. Nothing here gives me hope that things are going to get any better.

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~ by Elliott on May 28, 2009.

One Response to “Music review: Relapse”

  1. Elliott, well put and completely true of the road the Em has decided to take. I agree with your opinion hold heartedly. I must confess I do not own a singe album but in seeing what he has to offer, it sure will NOT change my opinion on downloaded it on itunes….my instincts were right! Thanks for the confirmation.

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