Thursday, May 14, 2009


I can just hear the conversation in the studio as Dr. Dre and Eminem sat listening to “Relapse” the first studio offering from Eminem in nearly five years. I can hear them both talking about how this record was offensive, raunchy, totally fucked up and insane.
The problem is they forgot to make it good.

Eminem was once seen as the ultimate rap lyricist, a man with a razor sharp wit combined with an amazing ability to pour his soul out for everybody to see. After listening to Relapse and remembering the previous album Encore I can honestly say that man is long gone. Relapse is a boring, predictable and largely phoned in album that hits all the major points that make Eminem “controversial” without any creativity behind them at all.

What always made Eminem’s controversy so sincere was that he didn’t force it, he was honest and people had a visceral reaction to what he was saying. With Relapse that kind of honesty is gone replaced with standard “look at me I’m being crazy” lines. Eminem attacks Christopher Reeve, Kim Karadashian, Sarah Palin and pretty much any easy pop culture target he can find. It feels like he just flipped through celebrity magazines and then wrote rhymes about them that he thought would make people angry. Halfway through it Relapse starts to feel like a desperate attempt by Eminem to not be forgotten or reclaim his lost glory. He fails on both counts.

Musically this album sucks big asshole. Rumor has it the actual beat makers in Dr. Dre’s stable quit on him and based on this record could see that being true. The entire album sounds like one long song cut into 20 or more parts. Literally the beat is the same, the chorus the same, even the bits and pieces of sounds are all from the same sample bank. I could walk into a music school, spit and hit twenty kids that could write better tracks than this.

Then there’s Eminem’s voice, which he’s decided to make “funny” and “crazy” for every goddamn fucking song. Each time Eminem opens his mouth it sounds like he’s channeling an Adam Sandler “funny voice” ala The Waterboy or Billy Madison then mixing it with Apu from The Simpsons. I can see what he’s trying to do but sadly the attempt fails miserably.

Everything here is forced from the obligated lyrics about slapping bitches, torturing women, how he’s like a serial killer, to the pot shots at celebrities that aren’t even funny. I’ll admit the single “We Made You” is catchy and fun; it’s also the best song on the entire record. Think about that for a second then go back and listen to the single again. Yep, that’s the best Eminem and Dr. Dre could do this time. Sad isn’t it?
I can only guess that after getting famous by being honest and truly creative Eminem decided he wasn’t “street” enough and started hanging out with his boys in D-12 (who suuuuck). Being around that many marginal rappers must’ve worn off on old Slim Shady because Relapse sounds more like a failed demo than a triumphant return to form.

Eminem said he was coming back to take music over because what was going on in hip-hop sucked. While I agree with his opinion he isn’t going to take anything back with this horribly desperate mess of an album. Based on what I’ve heard here both musically and lyrically I think Eminem and Dre should’ve called it Tombstone instead of Relapse.

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