Framed, a song about murdering females, which the idiots of PC America apparently consider more morally acceptable than “raping” them; that word is edited out; sounds like an outtake from Relapse. That’s a good thing. Eminem continues to subtly bash that album; here he pokes fun at the accents he used; but it’s one of his best. It may have even become my favorite. I’d have to go back and compare it to The Slim Shady LP to decide. The Marshall Mathers LP is good too. Its sequel is one of his worst. Recovery, which was presumably released to counter the relatively mild commercial success of Relapse, is too. This new Revival, the title of which seems to mark the end of a trilogy; unless you count Infinite, which I don’t, Eminem doesn’t really have any stand-alone solo albums; is three. That means his worst albums are his newest albums.
One reason for that is the lack of beats by Dre. Many of the producers Eminem recruits these days are star-shaped cookie cutters. Another reason is Eminem’s reliance on bland hooks by Autotuned pop singers who, before 2010, would’ve sounded laughably out of place on an Eminem album. This one begins with Beyoncé crooning a tuneless chorus composed by Skylar Grey, who, as far as her Eminem contributions are concerned, is a talentless bore. The biggest problem with Revival though is that it seems Em no longer has what it takes to make a good album. He can barely write a good verse anymore. There are clever bars, but the rapper is a far cry from the concise wordsmith he introduced himself to the world as. He’s now a verbose, albeit complex, rhymer with a passion for mushy sentiments and corny punchlines.
He makes it clear from the beginning that he’s aware of the criticism he gets from fans like myself and he seems to take it to heart, but we’re all saying different things. A lot of people don’t like Relapse, think it’s cool to jump on the hate Trump bandwagon because their favorite celebrities do it and cry racism whenever the victim of police corruption, which is a serious problem in America, happens to be a black boy. So he makes the legacy-tarnishing mistake of trying to please the mixed masses. That makes for an album with no clear conceptual or musical cohesion. The start and end, the latter of which reinforces the trilogy theory by time-traveling to just before it began, make sense, but the middle may as well be a random selection of new Eminem songs. Or mostly Eminem songs. Need Me is literally a Pink song featuring Eminem.
“I’m better than I ever was,” the self-proclaimed Rap God declares, but that’s just ego. I wouldn’t be surprised if even he thinks the title of this album; arguably the worst of his worst, which still isn’t bad; is a joke. A real Revival would’ve been the aesthetic equivalent of Relapse 2. The Framed song gets it right. Despite the fact that the hook makes an awkward attempt to rhyme “entertain” with “me”, it’s a zany delight. The beat reminds me of Pigs from Cypress Hill. The Offended beat has no hard snares to speak of, but winks to Eminem for interpolating an obscure Worm Eaters reference. Is it my ears or are the vocals mixed a bit too low on some of these songs? Castle and Arose go well together though. Would it be better for his legacy if he’d died when he almost did? Probably. Should he retire like he said he would after Encore? Probably.
my rating = 3 of 5