Slim Shady is back, and he’s as crude as ever.
In interviews prior to the release of Relapse, Eminem told fans he was resurrecting the Slim Shady style. The disgusting lyrics that had radio stations banning him when the Slim Shady LP dropped are back, and arguably worse than ever.
Topping Slim’s manifesto of foul content includes his sideways views of celebrities. While Eminem may been out of the game for four years, he can still spin a lyric around what’s going on in the entertainment world. Only he goes one step further. In Same Song and Dance he turns into a psychopath, picking up celebrities in his truck and murdering them, while We Made You is a barrage of insults directed at Tinseltown.
Is Slim having an identity crisis?
For some reason Eminem has lost his hard-edged angry accent. Whether rapping in an accented voice gives more versatility with emphasising lyrics, I’m no expert, but if he’s rapping in someone else’s voice, who is he rapping as? Bagpipes From Baghdad has a dodgy Scottish accent, and Hello may well be Eminem chatting up girls, but there isn’t any reason for the voice. You don’t hear that classic 8 Mile non-stop flow right until the last track, Underground. You question why not sooner?
Lyrically Eminem has rediscovered his skill for creating rhymes in a post-Eminem Show fashion, managing to rhyme with every addictive prescription drug he can think of, and has some great lines – just listen to the opening of Insane – but falls foul of a similar flow and not much diversity in subject matter.
A couple uppers…
If you look closely, the cover art is made of thousands of pills, and the drug theme continues with the CD case and packaging, from the prescription-style booklet design to the details in the labelling. Pop the CD off its mounting and it reveals the inside of a pill bottle. Fans will also notice the subtleties including the Relapse prescription issued by Dr Dre and pill count “313,” the area code for Detroit.
A nice addition is that the lyrics are printed in the booklet too. You could analyse his word play, count how many times a prescription drug is mentioned in one verse or just check the lyrics against what you think you heard him say.
It’s 95 per cent Dre.
Only one of the twenty tracks on Relapse is produced solely by Eminem, the others are Dr Dre beats, and it’s quite evident when you listen to it. That means repetitive tunes with not a lot of variety to switch up the vibe or complement Eminem’s flow as you hear familiar Dre-style beats stomp their way through the album. Take away the vocal track and you could mistake it for a 50 Cent album.
It’s only when you get to Beautiful you imagine that Eminem was in the studio by himself, reflecting on record what he was feeling at that moment in time. Here he admits that he may well be a comedian but hides behind the tears of a clown. Deep, but without more angry, frustrated songs, are songs about drugs all you want to hear about?
Not the same old song and dance
It’s hard to believe the lack of guest artists on Relapse. That’s both a good and a bad, the good is you get straight Eminem to the end, the bad is no guest space for labelmates. 50 Cent appears on Crack A Bottle and Dr Dre appears twice, but the lack of a D12 track is like everything else on Shady Records is static at the moment.
Although Eminem is a big enough personality to carry an album by himself, given the album’s relapse theme it becomes introverted and difficult to relate to what he raps about, less like a rounded album and more like a mixtape of songs. Whether or not you’ll still be feeling it when the hype of it dies down or not is difficult to predict meaning you’ll have to wait until Relapse 2 to know if Eminem/Slim Shady has really relapsed.
Same Song & Dance