By Angela Bacca
I have always liked Eminem’s brutal honesty and raw emotion. He has rapped about killing his mom and his girlfriend in graphic detail, and although mainstream pundits labeled him a violent misogynist, I have always seem it as purely crafted catharsis. They were raps of pure emotions, but I personally believe that he would never actually do it. The rage, anger, hurt, and self loathing that could be heard through his music is what turned a whole generation of adolescents into angry little Eminems, not afraid of telling any authority figure to fuck off. His new album, Recovery is due out June 22, although it has already leaked online. Originally titled “Relapse 2,” its original release was pushed back in November of 2009 because Em felt he was going in another direction.
On Recovery, he is not just going in another direction, he is stopping the car, pulling over, admitting he is lost and pulling out a map. In a clip leaked online, he discusses his drug overdose and near death on Showbiz Tonight. “The last thing you want in the hip-hop world is to be portrayed as weak,” he said, but with his own life at stake, the well being of his daughter, and his career on edge, he did something incredible: he admitted weakness instead of letting the addiction destroy him.
But by no means should you assume Eminem has gone soft or lost his humorous edge. His raps still include a little prostitute slapping, not to mention he is promoting the new album with an infomercial featuring Vince Shlomi of ShamWow fame pushing the new album, and demonstrating how it functions as a knife by slicing up cheese, tomatoes and a silicon breast implant; if you order today it comes with a deluxe ShamWow ten-gallon tampon.
Eminem almost committed what he refers to as “career suicide”, by lashing out at top-40 success Lil Wayne on a track. Although it is what I love about him, it is also what I hate about him. Eminem’s attacks on everyone around him make listening to one of his albums as uncomfortable as sitting next to a meth head with a shank. In “Talkin’ to Myself” he admits to being jealous of Weezy’s success, “I went away, I guess I opened up some lanes/ But there was no on who even knows that I was going through growing pains/ Hatred was flowing through my veins/ I as on the verge of going insane/ I almost made a song against Lil’ Wayne/ It was like I was jealous of him cause of the attention he was getting/ and I felt horrible about myself.” It is one of the first times I have ever heard a celebrity muse over their fame in such a genuine way.
Not only does Em admit to being immature, jealous, and depressed, he even gets a little soft, although he ensures you that soft is the new hard. In the single “Not Afraid,” he calls his last album lame, apologizes to his fans for selling out, and swears he is trying to be better in his career and personal life. This is the ballsiest thing a hip-hop artist has done, Eminem took his battle with drugs and himself, owns up to it, and allows himself to be vulnerable to scrutiny.
His talent as a lyricist is evident throughout the album, but the real test of Recovery will be its reception. Are fans going to abandon Eminem because he isn’t hopped up on Vicodin and re-writing “Drug Ballad?” Is his role as a social commentator and rap legend only going to be further solidified? For once I think he wants us to take it literally.