Review Summary: Slim Shady's back! (Again.)
Maybe it's just me but I seem to get tired of Eminem. But I don't want to, believe me. Right now, Em is one of the only mainstream MCs who is still worthy of being called an MC. His rhymes are still dope and his flows are impeccable. But his subject matter is what irritates me the most. Back in 1999 to 2002, it was okay for Em to rap about his mom, his wife, his kids, his drugs, his inner struggles, his rants against media, and celebrity bashes because he did with style and did it differently every time.
However since Encore, Em has sounded pretty tiresome in his raps. And Relapse was at best a mediocre effort despite some great highlights. Now with Recovery, Em promises to go completely new. No more drugs, no more mom, and no more Kim. Just the dopest rhymes you'll ever hear. Sounds promising, but what about the beats"
Simply said, the beats are what really brings down the album from a really good comeback to a relatively good if not better comeback. There's nothing new here. It's all just mainstream filler with ONE Dr. Dre beat (and even that isn't among the cream of Dre's best). Even Just Blaze for Christ's sake falls below expectations. I am singling out Just Blaze because you would expect him to give something booming and colossal like what he gave Jay Electronica for "Exhibit C". There are a couple of Just Blaze tracks that really shine but even those could be better.
The worst part is that not a single beat fully fits and satisfies the hard spitting from Slim Shady. Some sound surprisingly okay ("Cinderella Man") and even stellar ("Going Through Changes") and some just sound underwhelming ("So Bad") or just plain goddamn unbearable ("Won't Back Down"). Even Shady himself tends to overdo his vocal power. Aggression is not the point; rapping loud to the point of shouting is. And Won't Back Down is the best example of Em at his worst. The beat is far too abrasive and far too poppy. Eminem sounds far too angry. And Pink sounds far too nice. What a mix.
But there is no denying Em's mic skills haven't been this tight since 2002. This time, he feels more focused and energized and ready to rhyme. While possessing lyrical stamina, he also isn't afraid to admit his own faults ("Not Afraid"); reveal the softer-yet-angry, reflective, and interestingly contradicting side of him ("Love the Way You Lie"); and poke fun at himself ("WTP (White Trash Party"). Because like other self-reflecting rappers, he does it with style. However, he should put away that hat of celebrity names, since it already has a huge hole and name-dropping is no longer part of his funny persona.
I could give this a 2 but the rhymes really pull the album from the grotto of mediocre beats. Slim Shady hasn't sounded this vitalized and reinvigorated. Yeah, sure nothing has changed. But change is only necessary for a few areas.
Production: 4.5/10 (Nothing that's real meat. Just jerky and an occasional burger.)
Rhymes: 8.0/10 (Love to see [I mean "hear"] Slim Shady give some variety and less loud vocal range to his content)
Repeatables: No Love, You're Never Over, Going Through Changes, Cinderella Man (a guilty pleasure), WTP
Skippables: Won't Back Down, So Bad, Almost Famous, Not Afraid (gets freakishly annoying after some listens)
Overall Score: 6.0/10