Eminem – “Relapse”

10 October 2019

“I guess it’s time for you to hate me again,” Eminem states in the chorus of “Medicine Ball.”

It happens at least once in every artist’s career: they go on a hiatus and then burst back on the scene with their best album yet. Green Day did it with “American Idiot,” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers had “Stadium Arcadium.” Now, it’s Eminem’s turn with “Relapse.”

What has he been doing for the past five years? For the most part, unfortunately, dealing with drug addiction and depression. And that’s the focus of this album.

Most of the time, when he isn’t referencing his addictions, the rapper is simply venting his frustrations from the past five years. This was a common theme in past albums. But here, instead of simply being furious, Eminem seeks a resolution through his music and himself.

Songs like “My Mom” (in which he blames his mother for getting him hooked on Valium) and “Beautiful” (challenging listeners to take a walk in his shoes and experience his pain first-hand) are utterly heart-breaking and reinforce how hard this guy’s life has been.

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The album as a whole is pretty good, as long as you remember these are just songs. I wish I could say that there’s some subliminal message or hidden symbolism, some sort of mind trick he’s using to control kids, but I can’t. He’s just trying to make you mad, and it works every time. And I can’t figure out why we get so angry at him. He’s not the first rapper to use violent or controversial lyrics. That said, I wouldn’t let anyone under 16 listen to this disc. It is all about Eminem finding an outlet for his anger, pain, and frustration. He’s clearly found it; it’s really his outlook on life that needs work.

Where this album shines, ultimately, is in the delivery. Rapping is, for the most part, an acquired talent, but it takes skill to do what Slim Shady does. Eminem has always been a hate-him-or-love-him kind of artist. Either way, he continues to find success, and I sometimes think even he wonders why.

“Relapse” is, without a doubt, one of his most grueling, offensive, obscene, vulgar, gratuitous, graphic, and, yes, one of his best albums ever. Oh, and it was executive produced by Dr. Dre, as if you needed another reason to buy it.

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