We’ve all been anxiously (your brain presumed I would say ‘patiently’, didn’t it? ADMIT IT!) waiting for Em (yes, Em, we’re on slang-name terms) to release his next album, with it coming up to nearly three years since the release of Recovery. Wow, three years already!?
It’s also been two years since Eminem was in the public with a solo song. These kinds of time lapses are what rappers like Kanye define as a ‘hiatus’, but as a fan – I’m very glad that Em does it this way. as it leaves more space between solo projects, which are always defining works (for better or worse) in some way, and always give us a ‘new era’ of Eminem music to feast on for a couple of years.
Each album he does is like a mini new career within itself, so it’s only right that he make us wait, sweat, wonder, speculate, guess, anticipate and then re-invent his sound all over again and surprise us all.
WHICH, is exactly what he’s done to me as a fan since the beginning now. As he intends.
Let’s take a quick look at the timeline of Em’s solo work from debut to present day…
Eminem debuted in 1996 with the album Infinite. Eminem’s style on the album was criticized by those who heard it, for being too similar to AZ and Nas, with people effectively labeling him as a ‘biter’ and the album being perceived as unoriginal. Personally, I feel this was a bit harsh and probably influenced by the fact that he was a new white MC, and new white MC’s generally (especially then) have to work harder to get initial respect.
There has been a plethora of black rappers that sound alike and I’ve seldom heard such blunt comparison; when you actually listen to Em on Infinite… whilst there is certainly influence from AZ and Nas, Em’s writing style was still very unique. If you’ve been aware of his evolution since then, you can go back and hear the ‘Em-isms’ in his lyrics and approach. Take for example the line “I used to give a fuck, now I give a fuck less”, which he actually re-used on The Marshall Mathers LP.
I think Em deserves more credit than he got for this body of work, as it contains some stellar lyricism and is pretty consistent throughout. If the album had proper production, it could have been a classic.
Regardless, the album was a complete flop, failing to shift any real units and sending Em into a deep depression, feeling helpless and lost; Eminem tried to commit suicide shortly after.
In response to the reaction to Infinite, Em got very annoyed, depressed and rebellious and came back with his now infamous ‘Slim Shady’ alter-ego which saw its first stylistic incarnation, on a full-album on The Slim Shady LP.
The Slim Shady LP was an international hit on the charts and received widespread critical acclaim.
There’s no doubt that a huge element in Eminem’s initial success was thanks to the public approval of Dr. Dre, not to mention Dre’s influence and tutoring of Em in the studio, which helped Em to really master his ambitions and frustrations, and shape the classic album that we heard.
The Slim Shady LP was a complete surprise after Infinite. Especially with most entering the album with expectations of one-dimensional shock-rap, after hearing the lead-in single “My Name Is”. Contrary to that presumption – the album is brimming with incredibly complex and beautiful lyricism, hilarious storytelling, social-commentary and ironic, post-modern, daring provocation.
This was Eminem’s true introduction to the world.
What did Eminem do next? Well, he came back with The Marshall Mathers LP.
Bold, inventive, outlandish, provocative and astounding… are just five adjectives that could be, and have been used, many times over the years to describe what is often considered Em’s ultimate artistic achievement, to this day. As a fan, I would have to agree with that sentiment.
Never before have I heard such a hilarious, incredibly nuanced, politically daring, conceptually brilliant, consistent combination of rhyming, musicality, introspection, social-commentary and creative asides.
This album was one holy fuck of a surprise. Many presumed Eminem was not only something of a one-hit wonder, but that he was limited in his versatility, style and approach; The Slim Shady LP was seen as a brilliant album, but nobody expected Eminem to build upon his vision in the way that he did.
Eminem effectively took in the criticisms, misunderstandings and outrage of his commercial debut and spat out this spastic masterpiece. This album may go down as his ultimate contribution to the genre. And the world. Artistically… I’m not sure if he will ever top it. It’s head-fucking-brilliance.
What came next was probably the most surprising turn in Eminem’s career.
After two provocative albums filled with arguably juvenile content… nobody pegged (well, those of us who understood him knew that he already had done it) Eminem as an artist capable of truly serious introspection and refinement. His response? The Eminem Show.
His evolution up until this point illustrates what kind of artist Eminem is, which is: a reactionary artist.
Eminem has always, and probably will always gauged the reaction to his material and then use that fuel, be it positive or negative – as energetic stimulus that forms the foundation of his next body of work.
The Eminem Show showed that not only was Em capable of more than fantasies and provocation, but that he was a truly spectacular songwriter. This is the album where Eminem evolved into a MUSICIAN.
Up until this album – he was a genius lyricist with an adept ear for production, and, a fantastic producer himself. But he had not quite become what he would become on The Eminem Show. That being – a full-fledged writer of songs that cross genres and commit wholeheartedly to subject-matter.
After putting out what many fans and critics consider his most consistent album (The Eminem Show), Em came back with his LEAST consistent album: Encore (2004). If that’s not a fucking surprise, I don’t know what is.
Many fans, and Em himself – disregard and disown this album as his worst. I agree.
Why was it a surprise? Well, he went from a righteous, rap-rock powerhouse lyricist… to “Just Lose It” and “Ass Like That”. Like I said: for better or worse, he always surprises us.
Nobody seriously expected Em to come with a song like “Big Weenie” after knocking out tracks such as “Soldier”. Although maybe we should have when he went from “My Name Is” to “Stan”.
Encore is easily his most inconsistent album due to the fact that it pretty much contains 50% self-serious tracks and 50% goofy tracks. Em had always juggled his personas and sides of his personality to create a varied batch of moods and tones… but up until now, he MERGED the sides to create songs that were serious AND funny… and funny AND serious. There was a combinatory factor at work.
With Encore… that’s lost. My personal conclusion is that he was actually very serious during this time period (evident from his demeanor and mood around this time, and the fact it was the beginning of his harrowing drug addiction to painkillers) but felt some obligation (or perhaps he was ‘encouraged’ to) to fulfill the silly side we had become accustom to. Which could explain why it sounds so forced.
Because Em may not have felt like being funny, we got trite like “Ass Like That” – perhaps due to the fact he was overcompensating, and forcing this material out of himself.
He had also began to become viewed as a ‘self-serious artist’ after The Eminem Show; despite the fact that he’s fucking hilarious in spots of it, the overall tone was jagged-edged, aggressive and serious. so perhaps tracks like “Rain Man” were his response. Em always rebels the labels.
The album is not without its gems though, “Crazy In Love” has some of the most poignant love lyrics Em has ever penned, spat out in an exhilarating, continuous melody of a flow.
Where to start…
I guess by saying that I fucking LOVE Relapse. That’s not relevant to why it was surprising, but I feel it my duty to praise its brilliance in response to the amount of flack the album has gotten, which I feel is unjust. I’m also slightly annoyed by the fact that Em took to heart the initial reactions of fickle fans who clearly never got him to begin with, and changed the course of his material.
Whatever you feel about the album – anybody who says they predicted he would come back with Relapse, is full of shit. There was no way to predict this sound, it was brand new.
After the commercial heights of 2002-2004, after the level of fame he had reached at his peak; after how accustom he had become to responding to criticism head-on within his material and making his personal life the prime focus of his work… the notion that he would come back from a four and a half year hiatus from planet Earth with an insanely lyrical, cinematic, theatrical, bouncy bombast hybrid of a horrorcore… Frankenstein’s monster of an album like this, would seem… unlikely at best.
As a fan, I wanted this. I absolutely wanted this. I was hoping, wishing and dreaming that he would come back like a fucking beast and disregard everything he’d done before. And rap purely for the sake of creating compelling art and pushing buttons again. And that’s exactly what he did.
The rap style(s), the production, the concept, the imagery; the songs, subject-matter and just whole… sound of Relapse is fucking immense. It’s not just about how good (which is ‘very fucking’ btw) Em is on Relapse though, but how different it is too. It sounds fuck all like any of his prior albums, which is also a very applause-worthy feat to achieve, a decade into his mainstream career.
Not only does Relapse sound nothing like the rest of HIS catalog though… unless my memory is being a douche-baggish-cuntish memory, it sounds fuck all like anything else I’ve heard in rap to date either. There’s tinges of Internal Affairs perhaps, but generally speaking… it sounds totally unique.
As with many works of great art that are divisive in nature – they’re understood after the fact. This has slowly been (and will continue to be) the case with Relapse.
Many fans disliked the style of his rapping, or more specifically, his ‘accents’ on the album; but more specifically than that – everybody had their preconceptions and expectations of the kind of material Eminem would and should come back with. Predictably, most people’s ideas on what it ‘should sound like’ were not fulfilled and many haphazardly disregarded the album.
The critical respect and standing with fans, of Relapse, will massively improve with time. Mark my words.
Most recent to Em’s expansive epilogue of epicness, is Recovery.
Was Recovery surprising? You can bet your sense of self-fucking-worth it was. It was incredibly surprising. ESPECIALLY after Relapse.
As I keep saying, for better or worse – one thing you can never dispute, is how surprising Eminem is each time out, and this is reflected in his sales. Many bitter, shit black rappers like to throw around this lazy, misguided idea that Eminem still sells heaps because he’s white. Oh really? Where’s Vanilla Ice then… and if your response to that is “Yes but he’s white AND GOOD”… Where’s Yelawolf? Remind me how much he sold? Sales are not driven or deterred by skin colour. Kids don’t give a fuck.
If the only formula for international success in rap was white + good, there would be many more internationally known white rappers than Eminem. There ain’t.
One of the most under-appreciated and least talked about elements in Eminem’s continued success is the element of surprise. He keeps a phenmomenol momentum due to the fact that even his most hardcore fans never really know what to expect. I don’t think the same can be said about any other mainstream rapper, except for perhaps Kanye West.
After the obsessively detailed, horrific and humorous narratives of Relapse… who the FUCK in their right, or left mind predicted Eminem would come with an emotionally charged pop-rap-powerhouse album like Recovery, collaborating with fucking Pink, or rapping over a “What is Love?” Sample!?
Those previous lines were not to imply Recovery is bad, as I actually love Recovery. And the idea of putting Rihanna on the chorus of “Love the Way You Lie” was a genius move by Eminem, similar to him performing with Elton John in front of GLAAD protestors in 2001.
Recovery sounds absolutely nothing like any of his other albums. Once again, we were surprised.
Album #8 – ?
This is the year where Eminem will release his 8th official studio album.
The big question on the tip of all of our tongues is “how will he surprise us?”…
If we look at Eminem’s track record so far… It was damn near impossible to predict the stylistic changes that Eminem went through from one album to the next. Sure, he’s swam in similar waters in terms of subject-matter, on all of his albums up until now… so we can probably predict that his new album will be provocative, contain lots of swearing, personal references, tongue-in-cheek humour and catchy hooks. But beyond that, how will it sound?
If his recent features (“Here Comes the Weekend” with Pink, “C’mon Let Me Ride” with Skylar Grey) are anything to go by, not to mention his BET Cypher from 2011 – then the best guess is that he’ll have a mix of harsh and smooth flows, with humorous and cheeky content. I get the sense that he’s most likely to sound like he did on his BET Cypher. And I fucking hope so, since that verse is amazing.
Royce has also implied that the content will be highly controversial and dark, saying as much as “I don’t know how the world is going to react” to some of the material that he has heard from Em, and also that something he heard ‘gave him nightmares’… (McLovin’) NICE!. That’s what true Em-heads want Em.
If the hints so far are anything to go by, we can expect a dark, daring album.
It’s also intriguing as to what he will rap about. We know that he’ll probably have provocative lines galore, we know he’ll bait some big names and perhaps namedrop the odd recent event, but what is the main core of the subject-matter going to be about? It’s an interesting question as he truly is at the end of his road with ‘life material’ right now, which is the danger of making your material SO tied to your story, and why I don’t like it, as it’s predictable. And the easiest route.
With Recovery, Em poured his heart out about his drug tribulations, and Proof… and I truly can’t see him going way back and bringing up childhood issues at this point. He has to go forward, and something about that BET Cypher tells me he’s truly trying to get back into ‘MMLP mode’… those lines intended to offend, feel stronger and more reminiscent of his social sting circa 2000 due to the fact he’s referencing real events, and not simply goading celebrities and being cartoonishly insane.
Also, we’ve heard little about the production of the album, which makes me think Em is mainly self-producing this one. Em has been doing a lot of executive producing (Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse and Skylar Grey) for other artists, not to mention co-production (Hell: The Sequel) which says to me one thing: he’s been practicing for his own, buffing up behind the boards in order to sharpen up his production senses for his new body of work. Which, would be fucking heaven, tbfh.
Whilst the release date of Eminem’s new album may still be unknown, answer me this…
Eminem fans: are ready for a self-produced, fucked-up Shady classic? Bring it on!
Eminem’s long-term manager, friend and confidant Paul Rosenberg (who is often heard and seen with Em in interviews) has recently announced that Em most certainly is releasing an album in 2013, and they expect it ‘post Memorial Day’, which, is May 27th.
How fantastic is that? All this wait, then as usual – out of the blue comes the announcement.
Here’s the exact quote:
We fully expect to be releasing a new Eminem album in 2013. He’s been working on it for some time. It’s safe to say that it will be post-Memorial Day at some point, but we’re not exactly sure when. We’ve got some dates locked in for him to perform live in Europe in August, so we’re trying to see what else lines up.
Now, Paul was a little ambiguous and to many, saying ‘post Memorial Day’ could mean anything, but we know that Em has live performances booked in August, so the album will be before then. And if it’s before then, and he’s even attached that day to it… it makes it sound as if it’s going to be pretty close to that date, so we’re probably looking at early-mid June. We’re in February now, so probably no more than two months before the 1st single! Excited!? So am I.
I hope this time Em forgets about appeasing fans and just aims to create something significant, dark, poetic and long-lasting. I don’t ever believe he’s just aiming for sales and hits, even with Recovery, but I do think he cares about IMPACT. He certainly likes to feel like he’s relevant and that he’s doing something worth talking about, and given that he’s so famous and internationally known now, he probably sees sales as some kind of measure.
Recovery was a solid effort, and it has some absolutely classic material on there, let’s just hope he can make a classic album! He’s come close, but he hasn’t matched the consistency of his best albums. Yet.
50 Cent has just dropped this new single for his upcoming album Street King Immortal, and it features a BLISTERING new verse from Em!
Check out the new video below:
I think this is one of the most badass verses from Em in quite a while, and he looks pretty refined, yet manic, in this video. I really think this dark, adult, eloquent, endless well of poetic anger he’s tapping in to lately is hitting the mark. Thoughts?
A new song featuring Em, from Rihanna’s upcoming album, has leaked.
What did you think of Em’s little verse? personally I liked the experimentation; I know a lot of fans didn’t like the silliness in there, but after the “rear, rear, rear” bit, I think Em’s flow and delivery, and rhymes, get tight and interesting as hell. At the very least this let’s us know that Em is still experimenting, still trying to push his rhymes and cadences in to new dimensions. I can’t wait for his solo album.
Remember Skylar Grey? if not, refresh your memory.
Skylar Grey co-wrote “Love the Way You Lie” (hook), and sung the original version. She also wrote and performed the hook for “I Need a Doctor”, and she did a terrific job performing that chorus, with Em insisting Skylar remain on it, over Lady GaGa. Kudos, Em.
Okay, well anyway, she’s basically been under the wing of Alex Da Kid (producer of “Love the Way You Lie”) who is producing most of her upcoming debut album, and it was through Alex that she met Eminem. Well, now Em is going to be working on her album too, and featuring on her first single!
So what’s the single? it’s called “C’Mon Let Me Ride” and it’s apparently a ‘fun’ and ‘sarcastic’ satirical track, mocking an overly sexual music industry. And that’s not the best part; Eminem not only has a verse on this song, but he sings a rendition of Queen’s classic “Bicycle Race” hook, originally sung by Freddie Mercury. I know, right? I can’t wait to hear that. If you haven’t heard the original, check it out.
Speaking on the track, Skylar said..
I’ve learned from Em I can have more fun. He’s very sarcastic and makes me laugh all the time and there are parts of my attitude I have in person but I’ve never shown in a song. I feel like he showed me I don’t have to be afraid to show that side.
This track certainly sounds like fun, and the visuals look interesting.
Check out this picture of Em and Skylar on-set:
Personally, I’ve been waiting for Em to get a little more creative again. Not necessarily goofy, as I don’t think that’s when he’s at his best, so I’m hoping that it’s not overly silly, but the concept of this song sounds somewhat promising, and I can’t wait to hear what Em has done with that hook.
I think it’s pretty obvious that the lyrics will imply Em riding Skylar ‘like a bicycle’ or something, but it’ll be interesting to hear where he’s at lyrically, and style-wise.
This single is released December 11th, and will be on Skylar Grey’s debut album, Don’t Look Down.
I’ll post it when it’s out!