WIRTB: Eminem's Relapse

By @TrueGodImmortal and @SpeedontheBeat 

Welcome to another edition of WIRTB, where today we will look back at the 2009 release from Eminem. For those familiar with our format, True usually covers the good and Speed covers the bad, but today they switch roles and Speed talks the good and True breaks down the bad of Relapse. Let's get into it.

1. Dr. West (Intro)
2. 3 AM
3. My Mom 
4. Insane 
5. Bagpipes From Baghdad 
6. Hello 
7. Tonya (Skit)
8. Same Song and Dance 
9. We Made You
10. Medicine Ball 
11. Paul (Skit)
12. Stay Wide Awake 
13. Old Times Sake
14. Must Be The Ganja
15. Mr. Mathers (Skit)
16. Deja Vu
17. Beautiful 
18. Crack A Bottle 
19. Steve Berman (Skit)
20. Underground 

Gather 'round, men, women, boys, girls, and fuckpeople...for this is a rare occasion.

I'm Speed on the Beat and I'm talking the goods about Eminem's worst album (yes, Encore was better than this--even with its Michael Jackson references). Relapse, released in 2009 (while being recorded somewhere between 2005 and 2009) sounds like "classic Eminem" in some ways. Rapping over Dr. Dre production, Eminem delivers a concept album about the dangers and clusterfucks that can happen when a relapse happens.

As someone who's had some rough patches, I can appreciate that. It's an uncomfortable album and through that uncomfortable feeling (we see Em struggling to sound like "classic Em," but also showing flashes of evolution seen throughout the pop-friendly-but-still-decent-enough-to-make-up-for-Relapse album Recovery, released a year after Relapse), we get a glimpse into the mind of a man who's been removed from rap for a couple years because of familial issues, drug abuse, and more.

But...does that make this a good album?

The concept works. It's uncomfortable and brings listeners in almost too deep where they'll probably feel uncomfortable right along with Em (see songs such as "We Made You" and "Medicine Ball"). Seeing Em have a relapse and losing his shit again (to the point of becoming something akin to a rapping, pop culture-hating serial killer with no filters of sorts), again, fundamentally works for an album of this nature. However, the execution is flawed (Em even admits this on "Not Afraid," the lead single for Recovery). Highly, highly flawed.

This is different for me in some ways. I'm the more positive reviewer of us two. Even in Speed attempting to be positive, the glaring issues remains that this album is lacking severely. Lyrically, Em is at his most sinister and sick, but it all feels forced. That's why this album doesn't work. It feels forced. Em legit seemed like he had issues during his earlier albums and while his issues are still prevalent in this album, it feels manufactured almost. For every dope track such as "Deja Vu", there's the immature Eminem showing on "My Mom" or "Bagpipes From Baghdad". Immature Eminem was fine in 1999, in some ways (I wasn't a big fan of it), but in 2009, it felt really contrived. Now, this album was produced mostly by Dr. Dre and that could be seen as a good thing right?


While Dre probably was better on production than say Jeff Bass or those who assist with the usual boring dark production that Em had on his last few albums before this one, it still doesn't work. Dre has a few select good beats, but these all sound outdated and feature the same signature sound, which I've never thought was THAT great personally. I mean, sure, Dre has amazing drums, but his production on Relapse falls short just a bit. Perhaps it is Eminem and his ear for beats rather than Dre, as I'm sure there were much better tracks available, but this is a big flaw of the album.

Another flaw comes from the tired subject matter. While Em is struggling it seems personally, there was no true growth displayed in this album. Now, with all his struggle and strife, you would expect to see a bit more depth. This album is caught up in trying to recapture old glory of Slim Shady more so than tell the long story of Marshall Mathers and that's where it loses. Dre and Em have a terrible attempt at a club banger in some way with the 50 Cent assisted "Crack A Bottle", which just doesn't work. The song provides you with a glimpse of what used to be during the Shady/Aftermath/G-Unit era, but can't recapture that glory. There it is, the biggest issue with Relapse. It's an attempt to capture the glory that fails badly.


Relapse comes off as a retread of sorts to Eminem's earlier tracks. I get that this is the point. However, if I wanted to hear old Em, I'd listen to MMLP or SSLP. I would've preferred if Em, even with his "reintroduction" of Slim Shady because of a relapse, went a different route. Again, the concept is the only thing that keeps this album afloat for me. But a good concept mixed with weird execution doesn't make for a good album (see some of Kid Cudi's releases).

Overall, I don't hate the album, but it still is a hard listen. This is because it's simply not that good. Sure, Eminem at his worst, when it comes to rhyme schemes and all those other rap nerd orgasm-worthy buzzwords and topics, is still a dope artist. However, I wanted more from this project than just him becoming a more-violent version of Slim Shady because "DRUGS ARE BAD, MMKAY." This is also why MMLP2 fails for me, but we're talking Relapse. My final thoughts are this: hear it once, just to say you did. This is, as always, just my opinion. So, if you like this album, more power to you. I just can't.

I'll give you this conclusion in the most simple form: Yes, it is that bad. It missed every mark and only about 4 or 5 songs on a 20 track album really hit or connect with me as a listener. This was an album I didn't necessarily hate, but I just never cared about it much. I personally disliked Recovery just as much, if not more, because that was a failed attempt to make up for Relapse and that album really was just as bad, and yet lyrically inferior. Relapse was lyrically sound in some areas, which is likely the only saving grace, but for the most part, this album doesn't have many highlights. Was it really THAT bad? Yes. Yes it was.

Disagree with us? Have similar thoughts? Post it below in the comments section.



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