What happened to Enimem? Sure, he’s been away a while and the reasons for his departure is well documented but where is the angry, angst ridden genius that we saw over 10 years ago with the album Marshall Mathers?He seems to be lost in a quest to seem relevant without being relevant. Every album since his second LP has been a rehash of the same old crap, the same themes, the same issues albeit with a different and less memorable backing track.
Relapse, unfortunately, is more of the same. With a five year break, you would hope that Enimem would take the time to reinvent himself or, at the very least, bring something new to the table. Instead we are treated to track after track of forgettable nonsense. It becomes glaringly obvious why “We Made You” was released first as a single – it’s the only song that is catchy enough to find its way onto your MP3 playlist. Even then, it’s not all that good and sounds more like he’s reading a women’s magazine to an RnB beat.
In the past, Eminem has relied on controversy to fuel his music. His lyrics about homosexuals, violence, drugs and abuse have worked well. It’s been the way he has delivered the lyrics that have showed just how talented he was. Agree or disagree with the content, the artistry was what made his first two albums impressive. It seems that as he gets older, the fire and intensity has waned and now we are offered an artist that is trying to repeat old successes rather than break new ground. It’s a real shame too, because he is better than what he has become.
Relapse has all the same things we have seen before. There is violence against women, drug use, and comparisons between homosexuality and paedophilia but it seems more forced and desperate. The lyrics may still work if the beats given them were more memorable. There is nothing that even compares with the intensity of “The Way I Am” or the lyrical genius of “Stan”.
The opening track “3am” has a good hook, his vocals flow well and it is probably the best of the album. However things get muddy quickly with yet another song about his mother. We get it, you have mommy issues… can we move on please?
“Insane” tries to reinforce that Em is one crazy mofo. As much as lyrics about felching and child abuse are “controversial” it seems that the song is trying too hard to force people to be outraged. It isn’t done with the style that made his previous songs topical and relevant and feels more like he’s trying to create “ControversyTM”.
The ironically titled “Same Song and Dance” totes ultra-violence toward female celebrities with Slim playing the role of crazed fan. His voice lacks passion though, making him sound tired and worn. The best thing about the best of this previous work is that no matter what he sang, you felt like he meant it – even when he didn’t. This track highlights what is wrong with most of this album, it definitely seems like the same song and dance.
On the whole, the album isn’t bad. The tracks work well as background music but Eminem shouldn’t be something you put on while doing the housework. It should be something more inspiring, something that you feel in your bones. Perhaps we are just expecting too much from him but it seems that Marshall is truly gone and we have instead been left with a caricature. Eminem is now “that guy that does songs about hate” without the whimsy and humour that made him once great.