There isn't much that Marshall Bruce Mathers III (better known as Eminem or Slim Shady) hasn't accomplished during his 11-year career.
He has three #1 singles, 11 Grammy Awards, an Oscar and is the top-selling artist from 2000-09. But one thing Mr. Mathers has yet to accomplish is to release a flawless, classic album. He was close with his first couple of offerings, but in order to be recognized as one of the greatest artists of all-time, he needs to release a perfect album.
"Recovery," Eminem's sixth major-label album, starts off with the Just Blaze-produced "Cold Wind Blows" and features Shady up to his old tricks. He is vulgar, he is crude, but he certainly is entertaining. On the DJ Khalil-laced "Talkin' 2 Myself," Mathers speaks on the five years he was away from music (between the two disappointing releases, "Encore" (2004) and "Relapse" (2009), and how he almost took shots at some of rap's elite.
Mathers also speaks on his previous album, "Relapse," and its lukewarm reception. He admits on the lead single, "Not Afraid," that his last album was "ehh" and that he "ran those accents into the ground." On "Cinderella Man" he even goes as far to say that his "last CD's in the trash."
"Recovery" certainly is a more honest effort than the pseudo-horror album, "Relapse." Tracks like "Going Through Changes," "You're Never Over" and "25 to Life" show Marshall at his most vulnerable. On "Changes" and "Never Over" he talks about the tragic death of his best friend and fellow rapper, Proof. DJ Khalil provides the hauntingly beautiful backdrop to "25 to Life," in which Shady speaks about his relationship with hip-hop saying, "You screaming as I walk out that I'll be missed / But when you spoke of people who meant the most to you, you left me off your list."
"25 to Life" flows smoothly into the sole Dr. Dre beat "So Bad," which is one of Dre's best productions released in the past few years. "Seduction" sounds different than anything Mathers has done before, but it certainly works. On "No Love," he trades verses with Lil Wayne over a Just Blaze production, which samples Haddaway's "What is Love?" On paper, this track sounds like an accident waiting to happen, but it was surprisingly executed to perfection, as both emcees bring their A-game, not to be outdone by the other.
One of the biggest surprises "Recovery" has to offer is the future chart-topper and Rihanna-assisted "Love the Way You Lie." The song touches on the topic of domestic abuse, which is something completely unexpected from a man who has been notorious for making songs about killing his ex-wife and mother.
"Recovery" showcases a more sober, a more honest, and even a more mature side of Mathers. This record shows Eminem finally trying to do something different, and no longer following the formula he set with his previous albums (ie: 20 tracks, skits, cheesy first single, etc.). Without question this is the record he should've returned from his hiatus with instead of "Relapse." While "Recovery" definitely is not his "Sgt. Peppers" or "Exile on Main St", it is a giant step in the right direction.
8 out of 10 Beets