Review Summary: Recovery feels like the next step in Eminem's career. It's breath of fresh air - considering what a Relapse 2 could have potentially been for fans.
Recovery is a "Classic" because in a veritable sea of thow-backs, Eminem is one of the few artists in music that actually took a risk and made a successful step forward in his career. For "Recovery," it is a giant leap. Bone Thugs, Korn, Linkin Park, Taking Back Sunday and various other bands borne of the 90s are homesick for the sound that made them famous as kids. It would appear that Eminem felt the same way about his work because he really wanted his last album "Relapse" to resemble the violent "Slim' and "Mathers" LPs. Not only is "Recovery" different from anything he's written in the past, but it's good; very good. In fact, this record expresses something about hip-hop that we very rarely hear: Redemption.
For the year that I had to enjoy "Relapse" as a sort of homage to the days prior to "Encore," I eventually became too exhausted by its depressing imagery to appreciate any new material even remotely similar. Consequently, I didn't really enjoy "Relapse: Refill;" I had many personal issues with the record's production and Em's pervasive accents. I was happy he made the songs aggressive, but all we ever see these days are tributes. Everybody is just so wrapped up in the past...Eminem is a good example of how artists should continue to find new ways to creatively move foward and take risks.
One has to remember that there was going to be a second "Relapse" record released around this time. As Em hints in Track 19: 'Steve Berman,' there will be "two CDs." Whether you enjoyed "Relapse" or not, you were probably angry when "Relapse: Refill" dropped shortly after with an upsetting five extra tracks. For me, I thought production for the second album had been scrapped and what few completed songs Eminem had sitting around would be mastered as a supplement for fans anticipating an LP. Fortunately, we now have "Recovery" and it truly is some of his best work.
"Recovery" doesn't necessarily give us everything we want, but it certainly gives us everything we need. Gone are the harrowing ultra-violent lyrics we THOUGHT we wanted in "Relapse" and back is the fresh perspective into Eminem we need. It really feels like the next step in his career. Every song has a mature and philosophical weight to it - and the music is crisp and well produced. Good rhythms, melodic choruses and well written lyrics are the star of this Eminem Show.
Em still goofs around with his lyrics from time to time, but it's all in very concentrated doses. Most of the time he's apologizing for "Relapse" and what a mess he was when he wrote it. There are a few weak songs on the album, but they grow on you with time. I found "Relapse" to be fairly repetitive. The songs in this album feel more autonomous; there are no more goofy accents or empty melodies. Some will disagree with me on the vibe, given his working with different producers, but it feels like an Eminem album. Make a mix tape at home with your favorite songs from this and other Eminem records - they will all sound uniform.
I never disliked "Relapse," I just became sick of it. I believe songs like 'Beautiful' and 'We Made You' are important additions to his library of work. However, almost all of those songs are completely eclipsed by Em's new perspective on "Recovery." Right off the bat, there is 'Talkin' 2 Myself, Going Through Changes, 25 to Life and Space Bound' - all of which are redoubtable tunes to anything he's written for "Relapse," "Encore" and a lot of his older material as well. What makes these songs different than previous work is the emotional impact the songs have on the listener. 'Going Through Changes' is especially shocking in how sad and beautiful it is. 'Not Afraid' is the well known single we have grown to love. Another song, 'So Bad,' feels like something straight off "The Eminem Show" and 'W.T.P. (White Trash Party)' has a playful but still catchy and very well written hook to it - and it might also be the weakest song on the album, too. The record closes with 'You're Never Over' which is a song praising the late Proof, a good friend of Eminem who passed away.
Look, there is no "Relapse 2" in life. If you relapse, you have two choices: Recover or tap. Eminem knew "Relapse 2" would have been mediocre at best, so he scrapped the record. "Recovery" is proof that creativity and risk in the "biz" can work well for some of our older rock and hip-hop icons. He isn't selling out with "Recovery"...He saved fans 15 dollars on a second record full of malaise. I believe hip-hop will remember this record. This is really the album we've been waiting for from this particular artist. If you love hip-hop and don't mind Eminem, you should check this album out. Eminem is cool again. I want to shake his hand.