Only Partial

By: Danny Sedlezak
Pros: Best Lyrics from Eminem since 2002, a handful good beats, listenable singles
Cons: Still some very weak lyrics, mostly inconsistent production, far too long
    Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, released three great albums in a four year period (Slim Shady LP [1999], Marshall Mathers LP [2000] The Eminem Show [2002]), proving himself as one of hip hop’s greatest MC’s. However, signs of decline showed in Show. Among many things the horribly inconsistent production and the goofy / humorous songs prevented the album from being excellent. Show was an introspective album, so how does Em choose to follow it? He makes the abomination that is Encore (2004). Dumbing down lyrics and relying on repetitive and unfunny juvenile humor, Encore was a critical flop. Sadly, Em’s personal life forced him to leave the industry shortly after Encore’s release.
    Four years later, it turned out that Marshall had conquered his personal demons and is making a supposedly triumphant return to music. But in a surprising turn, the comeback album sucked. Due to poor beats, uninteresting themes, and a horrible Jamaican accent, Relapse (2009) was garbage; some even claimed it was worse than Encore.
    But none of that matters now, because fans everywhere are rejoicing over Eminem’s newest release Recovery (2010). People claim it’s as good as anything he’s ever done, nay, better! But is it really? No, but it’s the best thing he’s put out since Show.
    The album opens with ‘Cold Wind Blows’, and it starts my main complaint with the album, the singing. Em will never stand in the pantheon of great singers, but boy is he trying. And failing. However, Just Blaze saves the song with his usual magic on the board, providing an excellent beat for Em to spill his heart on. ‘Cinderella Man’ suffers from many similar problems. These songs feature the best lyrics on the album, yet both are hindered by their poor choruses and in the case of ‘Cinderella Man’, a monotonous beat. However, these are the best two tracks on the album. 
    Speaking of Production, what happened to Dr. Dre? He went from producing the entirety of Relapse to being limited to two tracks on here. His usual brand of G-Funk could have uplifted weaker tracks such as ‘Talkin’ 2 Myself’, a strange mix of battle rhymes and poor introspection track that would feel more at home on a Drake album, and ‘Won’t Back Down’. DJ Kahlil is not a worthy successor to the good Doctor.
    ‘Love the Way you Lie’ and ‘Won’t Back Down’ feature Rihanna and Pink, respectively. These are obliviously singles, but the old Em we love would never work with these artists. Not that we necessarily want the old Em, but he feels like he is trying to hop on the current musical bandwagon. The former track is definitely about Kim, a theme that has been beaten to death by Marshall, and shows him…dumbing down lyrics again? Not as bad as Encore, but he is still nowhere near as good as he was on MMLP. Besides, there are much better songs in the Kim cannon (Kim [MMLP] and ’97 Bonnie and Clyde [SSLP]). The latter is a mish-mash of guitars, Michael J Fox punch lines and lyrics about how Em ‘won’t back down’ from music. I’d pass on both.
    ‘W.T.P.’ is one of Eminem’s worst songs, and I will argue that point to the end. Lyrically, he’s at his weakest, the singing makes my ears bleed, the beat is horrendous on a good day, and the subject matter is Eminem picking up a woman at the club- Really?  ‘Seduction’ comes close to being as bad. A song about hooking up in a car, yeah, this is exactly what we need from an ‘emotional and personal’ album. Unlistenable hook, poor beat (though not as bad as W.T.P.) and a weak lyrics, even though his flow is impeccable. The good cannot cancel out the bad, however. Don’t waste your money on either of these songs.
    ‘W.T.P.’ also proves that Em is better at flowing fast than slow and that plagues the very good ‘Going through changes’. The hook is not sung by Em, and it makes a huge difference. The beat could be the best on the album, but it’s another Halie song. While that horse is dead and rotting, the song stands up better than ‘Mockingbird’ [Encore] (t. Consider it worthy of a listen or two and see if you like it.
    ‘Not Afraid’ and ‘No Love’ seem to falter in opposite areas, but feel the same way; wasted potential. ‘Not Afraid’ is powerful and lyrically on point, and Em’s hook is memorable and not annoying. However, the beat suffers from an over abundance of snares and a lame bridge. ‘No Love’ features a verse from Lil Wayne that would put an insomniac to sleep and a that hook makes me cringe. However, Just Blaze creates another amazing beat, using a Haddaway sample, to give life to Em’s average verse. ‘No Love’ is average, and ‘Not Afraid’ isn’t much better, yet is worth a purchase to any fan of Marshall.
    ‘Space Bound’ is another Kim song with a rather uninteresting clean guitar beat and a horrendously sung chorus. ‘25 to life’ is Em’s attempt to rip off Common’s ‘I used to love H.E.R.’ [Resurrection-1994]. Em uses the comparing of hip hop to a woman, but has energy-less beat, and lyrics that are too vague. ‘So Bad’ is another sex song, something that is very new ground for Marshall, but boy is he breaking it fast on this album. The beat is very good. This is where Dr. Dre has been, yet surprisingly Marshall brings very little heat. These songs would be described as filler.
    The album ends on a hot streak. ‘Almost Famous’ features a passable synthesizer driven beat, and Em brings the fire. It is perhaps the best hook simply because Em, nor a pop star, sings. While ‘You’re Never Over’ has an off key hook sung by Marshall (please stop, there is no more blood left in my ears), the pop synth and choir beat is easy to listen to (besides the excessive snares, it sounds terrible when they kick in) and Em delivers a touching tribute to his late friend Proof. Even though ‘Untitled is yet another misogynistic women song, it features the best lyrics out of all of the songs of that nature on this album. Dre produces a polka style beat that magically brings some fire. And while ‘Love the Way You Lie’ is a below average song (it has been touched on earlier) it still brings into energy after a largely boring middle.
    Recovery, for all of its bad production and off key hooks, makes up for it’s weakness with Eminem’s consistently strongest lyrical showpiece since The Eminem Show. Unfortunately its strong energy really wanes in the middle, slowed down by all of the filler, but the end makes a triumphant comeback. The lack of skits is very nice, but as all Em albums since SSLP have been, it is well over 70 minutes (this one clocks at 77). Yet another bloated album that would have fared much better in the 50 minute range. All and all, I would recommend it for any fan of Eminem or for any fan of emotional rap. The underground audience will be disappointed by poor subject matter and pop beats, and the pop listeners (for the most part) will be disappointed because it is not an easy listen, and does not have enough pop sheen to get significant radio airplay (besides ‘Love the Way You lie’ and ‘Not Afraid’, to a lesser extent). But if you’re not terribly picky, and willing to wade through the slow middle, you’ll find Recovery a return to form for Em…or, at least, as close as we are probably ever going to get.