…having a Recovery: A Review of the Recovery Album

There are very few musicians, and even fewer rappers capable of reviving a dwindling career up to or very close to the point of their peak and I feel Detroit rapper Marshall Bruce Mathers III, much better known as Eminem, just added himself to that category having listened to his latest (6th) studio album aptly titled Recovery.

Official cover for Recovery

Official cover for Recovery

Recovery is being a commercial success, selling 741,000 copies in its first week to claim the best opening week for an album in 2010 (so far) and currently topping most notable country charts (about 20 countries); such is the album’s success so far its least position on a country chart is 8th.

Recovery’s success makes me wonder, if “that last album…in the trash” was able to pick up Best Rap Album at the last Grammy Awards; ahead of overwhelming favourite The Blueprint 3 by Jay-Z, it has to be a matter of how many awards Recovery will pick up when the awards season arrive.

Relapse cover

Relapse cover

Yes, Eminem still is (unrepentantly) as verbally vulgar as ever but his use of metaphor, sarcasm and phenomenal vocal strenght (most evident in No Love featuring Lil Wayne) sets the album to be Eminem’s best effort since The Marshall Mathers LP of a decade ago, if not slightly better.

What I particularly like about Recovery, strangely enough, is the sparse use of long time collaborator Dr. Dre on it. The ace producer, unlike in last year’s Relapse, produced only two of the 16+1 tracks in the album (which by the way has no skits) and in my view, Eminem produces better than the normal best when working outside the good doctor and the proof is in songs as Beautiful (Relapse), Marshall Mathers (The Marshall Mathers LP), Not Afraid and No Love (Recovery), Lose Yourself (8 Mile OST), When I’m Gone (Curtain Call: The Hits), Cleanin’ Out My Closet and ‘Till I Collapse (The Eminem Show), Like Toy Soldiers, Spend Some Time and Mockingbird (Encore Disc 1), 97’ Bonny & Clyde (The Slim Shady LP), Infinite and Tonite (Infinite) and oh, Stan with the magnificent Dido Armstrong.

Infinite cover

Infinite cover. Only a few hundred copies of the album were sold and in vinyl by the artiste himself.

So what else makes Recovery tick? Eminem avoided, as much as he could, using an accent while at it. He also had some out-of-the-box collaborations with Lil Wayne (a collabo I bet we’ll see much more of), P¡nk (which isn’t much of a surprise since she and him kinda have a character fit) and most surprisingly, Rihanna on a song aimed at Kim (Love the Way You Lie). And, he made use of unorthodox productions – the sound for most parts wasn’t what I’d become used to from Eminem.

The tracks that propel the album? No Love (featuring Lil Wayne) for me is the best track on the album with Wayne at his metaphorical best – “…my gun’s semiCartermatic” (sic). Eminem then comes in with 40bars of pure genius (the standard rap verse is 16bars, equivalent to 40seconds) and the hook was cool.

Not Afraid comes a very close second as firstly, you’d hear Eminem’s true voice on it as with in No Love. Secondly, he mentioned a few truths – “…in fact let’s be honest, the last relapse CD was ehhhh/perhaps I ran ’em accents into the ground” and “it was my decision to get clean/I did it for me/admittedly I probably did it subliminally for you…” and finally, the song was aimed at the fans.

Other songs that have me clicking the repeat symbol are You’re Never Over (dedicated to Proof), Untitled (the +1 track you could also call it Here We Go), Almost Famous (which has an ill hook), Seduction (where he murders the second verse with genius, mimicking Jay-Z’s ‘ahw’ from BP3), W.T.P. (White Trash Party), Cold Wind Blows (where, in the second verse, he does a quite hilarious thing with lightning) and Won’t Back Down (featuring P¡nk).

In all, I’ll rate Recovery 4.5/5 from a bias view and 3.8/5 from a critique view. Indeed, Recovery will make you throw that Relapse CD into the trash, I guarantee it!

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