June 13, 2010

Eminem - Recovery (Review)

Lets not waste time with an introduction, and go right in.

1) Cold Wind Blows
Recovery starts out with an OK track in Cold Wind Blows. A very curious choice for an intro. I would've liked to jump this off with a bigger bang (see Kill You), but nope, this is what we get. Fine. Its not like the song is terrible or anything, just not ideal for its placement on the album.

The beat sounds like a Relapse leftover, and the hook is, in a word, wack. I've heard better hooks than this in freestyle cyphers. Lyrically Em didn't burn too many calories either, but it is nice to hear his own voice and not that weirdo accent that plagued Relapse.

(Side note: Why is he going at Michael J. Fox in the 2nd verse??)

2) Talkin' 2 Myself (feat. Kobe)
Question: If Em was essentially gonna go without an album intro, why wasn't this the first song?? I mean, this song doesn't have that "bang" I was referring to above, but it sounds more like an opening than Cold Wind Blows does. And that's not to mention it was just a better song in all aspects (beat, hook, and lyrics).

Anyway, how about the revelation in the first verse that Em actually thought about going at Lil Wayne and Kanye West, among others, for no reason?? Now, when he says "dissin'" I'm sure he means "take small jabs at" like he did every pop star at the top of the millennium, and not give them the full-on Benzino treatment. It's still pretty shocking to hear either way. And no he wouldn't have got his ass handed to him by either. Lil Wayne dick sucking was at an all-time high at the time though, so the effects would've been felt other ways besides lyrically.

Anyway, tight song. I still think it should've been track #1 though.

3) On Fire
Slim Shady?? Is that you?? By golly, I believe it is!

The beat is dark and sinister, and Slim totally sets it "on fire" with a blazing first verse. Then, after a lazy, bullshit hook, he makes fun of it at the top of the 2nd verse, as only Slim Shady could. You gotta love it! Even though this track really has no purpose, it sure is dope.

4) Won't Back Down (feat. Pink)
Overall, Won't Back Down is dope, but I'd be doing this review an injustice if I didn't call Eminem on some of the wack shit he spit on it. "Girl, shake that ass like a donkey with Parkinson's," may be the wackest shit Em has ever spit in his career. I mean, that was just pathetic. It didn't get any better a bar later when he again calls out Michael J. Fox saying, "make like Michael J. Fox is in the draws playing with an Etch-a-Sketch."

Fortunately those bars were the only downfalls of this song lyrically. The other downfall isn't even a downfall really, its more of a point of preference. I personally don't like Rock-influenced beats, so this obviously isn't my cup of tea (I felt the same way about Jay-Z's 99 Problems, in case you were wondering). I get it though, so he loses no points because of it. He just doesn't gain any either.

5) W.T.P.
When W.T.P. began, it really struck me as a filler, but once I kept listening, I found that I actually enjoyed it. I can't even find much fault with it, even though it feels like I should. The beat is hot-ish, the hook is good enough, and Em kinda rips it, outside of lines like the last one on the song ("you got more junk in your trunk than I do in my car").

There were shades of Hello from Relapse in W.T.P., and it's almost like a nicer version of it. Also, W.T.P. marks the closest Recovery gets to the "silly songs" Em routinely used as first singles for each and every one of his major label releases. Definitely not a bad thing.

6) Going Through Changes
Okay, Going Through Changes almost makes me want to take back everything I just said about W.T.P., it's that good. This track is absolutely incredible and definitely should have been directly after Won't Back Down. I'm not saying W.T.P. shouldn't have made the album, but after you hear Going Through Changes, the placement seems kinda odd. Whatever, I love this song, it's a perfect 5/5. There's nothing else really to say about it.

7) Not Afraid
Well we all know how I feel about this track, so I won't spend too much time on it. Super dope, and it fits the album even more than I thought it would when I first heard it. Also, I've warmed up to the beat as well. I mean, I didn't hate it before, but it was just aight then, and now I think it's definitely above average.

8) Seduction
It's almost weird to hear Eminem rapping about taking people's hoes, but this works. How could it not work with the pure lyricism brought to the table here?? That was simply amazing. The track was nice too, and the hook was sweet and fitting.

Now, if I didn't already know Eminem and Jay-Z were cool, I'd think he was taking jabs at him in the 2nd verse by doing that "Ah!" shit Hov does after every few words now. I'm sure all is well though, and Beyonce isn't cheating on Jay with Em lol.

9) No Love (feat. Lil Wayne)
Let me be clear about this, Lil Wayne's verse did NOT suck. BUT when compared to what Eminem spit, it did. Get it?? Aww fuck it.

Recovery is really starting to hit its stride after a somewhat pretty average start. What's not to like about this song?? They took Haddaway's gay techno song What Is Love, most famously known for the SNL skits with Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell and the movie "A Night At The Roxbury," and turned it into solid 24 karat Hip-Hop gold. The verses were both cold (Em's was obviously colder), the sample was useful, and the beat was stupid. Win, win, win.

I even liked how Wayne adlibbed parts of Em's verse. I hate when someone is "freestyling" and their homie keeps spitting their verse with them, but it sounded awesome on this record. I never thought I'd say this, but Em and Wayne have great chemistry and should definitely work together more in the future. So far, they are 2 for 2 (unfortunately for Wayne the song with Em was the only thing on Rebirth worth listening to).

10) Space Bound
And yet another exceptional all around track by Mr. Mathers. Space Bound actually something truly special because it's good to the point of being beautiful. Here's what I mean: You can attached memories to any song (ex. whenever I hear Master P's Make Em Say Ugh, I think about the 1st time I heard it as a 6th grader, just getting home from school), but only masterful ones, such as Space Bound, evoke the emotions from you. Yes, I think its THAT good.

11) Cinderella Man
The classicness just keeps coming! The title of Cinderella Man is inspired by boxer James J. Braddock, who was nicknamed "The Cinderella Man" and had a movie, by the same name, made about his life in 2005 starring Russell Crowe. Braddock overcame a severely broken hand and returned to boxing for the money during The Great Depression and ended up becoming the Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Eminem was once the baddest man in the land of Hip-Hop, but his issues with drugs was handicapping like Braddock's broken hand. Now he's healed and is clearly on top of his game.

Cinderella Man is hot in all aspects, as were the last 5 tracks. It has elements of Till I Collapse from The Eminem Show and Mosh from Encore, but is great in its own right. He's now 6 of his last 6.

I liken this streak of absolute heat on Recovery to Ray Allen in the 1st half of game 2 of the NBA Finals. Remember how it seemed like Ray couldn't miss, and no matter what he threw at the basket was going in?? That's where I'm at with this album. It feels like Em has found his stroke and can't miss. At this point, only 11 tracks in, Recovery has officially passed Nas and Damian Marley's Distant Relative for this year's album of the year honors.

12) 25 To Life
On the surface, 25 To Life is a great song, but if you dig a little bit deeper, it's a curious choice of topics for Eminem to tackle. Obviously the song is about Hip-Hop and not a girl (original, I know), so it seems weird to me he'd want to divorce "her," especially considering all the bars so far about how Relapse sucked and these last few years were his fault because he was on drugs and fuckin' up. I just thought he was going to take the blame instead of dishing it off on Hip-Hop.

I don't know, maybe its just me, because it could also be looked at as Em being mad at Hip-Hop for making him crazy and pushing him into drugs.

Either way you want to look at it, there's no denying it's a very, very good song, despite its unoriginality. Also, I like how at the end of the last verse he took a little shot at the bullshit MTV "Hottest" MCs list that glaringly left him off last year. Hopefully MTV has banished that foolishness, or picked a smarter panel.

13) So Bad
Well we knew the hot song streak couldn't last forever. So Bad is definitely an album filler and brings all momentum to a screeching halt. The Dr. Dre beat sounds like another Relapse leftover and the rest of the song is lazily put together, at best.

The good thing is that we haven't had a song this non-hot since the first song on the album, so that's not "so bad" after all. But be clear, So Bad is the worst song on the album...and the most boring.

(Side note: What does it say about Dr. Dre that he produced 2 of the worst tracks on the album?? Is his production falling off the real reason for the Detox super delay?? I don't know. Well he did produce Space Bound as well, so I guess there is hope.)

14) Almost Famous
I'm not sure if this song is actually good, or its just sounds good after listening to the super average So Bad. I don't love it, but I do like it, and it definitely more worthy of a spot on the album than the song that precedes it.

There is one thing I don't get though. Just going by the subject matter of the song, why wouldn't they put this in front of 25 To Life instead of 2 tracks later?? He's talking about finally becoming famous AFTER he talked about divorcing the game for making him famous?? That just doesn't make any sense, unless there's some other meaning to this track that I'm not aware of.

Either way, Em still brings it lyrically, the hook is hot, and the beat isn't totally bad, though its not my taste.

15) Love The Way You Lie (feat. Rihanna)
Another all around strong record in Love The Way You Lie. Perfect use of Rihanna here on the hook. It fits her strengths perfectly, and her singing talent deficiency wasn't exposed. It's a pleasant surprise because when I saw Rihanna was gonna be on the album I really didn't know what to expect. Don't be surprised if this is the 2nd or 3rd single.

16) You're Never Over
Finally Eminem dedicates an entire song to slain friend Proof...and it only took 4 years. It's both a good song and a touching tribute. I'm sure this is the most important song on the album to Em. Great way to end things.

17) Here We Go
But wait, there's more! Eminem takes an extra 3 minutes to basically put on one final lyrical exhibit before officially bringing Recovery to a close. Though Here We Go really has no point, its still nice to get one last hooray.

Favorite Song:
Space Bound (Prod. by Jim Jonsin)

Least Favorite Song:
So Bad (Prod. By Dr. Dre)

I must say, I was thoroughly impressed by this Recovery album. Eminem managed to evaluate all the flaws of Relapse and completely turn things around only a year later. There were no more awkward cadences or silly accents this time out, and from a production standpoint, it's his best work since The Eminem Show in 2002.

Though Recovery is less creative in its subject matter than previous releases, it is easily his most introspective album yet. As far as I'm concerned, that totally makes up (if not overcompensates) for the lack of imaginative, clever story telling Em does so well.

The flaws were far and few. There was no song on the album that completely sucked, but tracks like So Bad and Cold Wind Blows usually aren't found on classics. I feel like some of the tracks were out of order, but that is easily overlooked, especially in the day of iPods and mp3 players that allow you to arrange things to suit your preference. Also, it was a bit weird that this album not only didn't have an intro or outro, but no skits. No Ken Kaniff, no Steve Berman, no Paul Rosenberg, no nobody. All Eminem albums have skits, even Infinite had one, and it only had 11 tracks. Definitely not a fatal flaw, but I do enjoy his skits.