Eminem: the Rap God is back with his ninth studio album.
Four years since the release of The Marshall Mathers LP 2
, Eminem has attacked Trump in a viral BET cypher
, partaken in a wild marketing campaign, and with it released his new album, Revival
Lead single, Walk on Water
, helps to paint Marshall Mathers
as a normal individual – ‘Kids look to me as a god, this is r------d. If only they knew, it’s a facade and it's exhaustive’. The song, featuring Beyoncé, speaks of the pressure on musicians to live up to expectations.
Mathers’ self-doubt continues on self-produced Believe, which asks listeners, "Do you still believe in me?" The second track from the album captures one of the tightest flows of 2017, and acts as a reminder that Eminem is still in the game.
Second single, Untouchable, confirms that Eminem has not finished with his politically-inspired spurts. With a focus on police brutality, the rapper un-apologetically tears into immoral cops and their prejudice views. Mathers swaps between the perspectives of a white cop, and a black male – similar to the creative approach Joyner Lucas took with I’m Not Racist. On the track, Mathers goes as far to admit that at times, "it's been embarrassin' to be a white boy". He then calls out other musicians for their racist behaviour, "I'd rather hear 'em say 'Die N-word' than Die Antwoord" – Die Antwoord are a hip-hop group who ran into controversy, when vocalist Yolandi Visser, appeared in blackface in their music video for Fatty Boom Boom. Eminem's complex six-minute song then goes onto deliver a lesson on the history of America – "Got you singin' this star-spangled spiel to a piece of cloth that represents the 'Land of the Free' that made people slaves to build.’"
Like Home is a soulful and filter-less approach to address Trump’s misconducts. However, Mathers’ political awakening is later undermined by Heat, a women-crazy track, which trivialises Trump’s "Grab her by the p---y," and is so pun-orientated that it becomes irritating. On the other hand, Revival (Interlude) is a touching, peaceful pause from Eminem's full-on style. The short piece was performed by Alice and the Glass Lake, also known as Alicia Lemke, who tragically passed away from leukaemia in 2015.
Bad Husband focuses on Mathers’ failed married with childhood sweetheart, Kim. The song maps internal progression, and ends with the father-of-three apologising to his ex. The track also features as sample of his daughter, Hailie’s, voice – exact to the one present in My Dad’s Gone Crazy from The Eminem Show.
Without a doubt, the weakest track on Revival is Remind Me. A three-minute pick-up-line rapped over the tune of I Love ‘n’ Roll - the hit made famous by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts in 1982. What was Eminem thinking?
Framed throws Eminem back to his horrorcore days, with an eerie four-minute track that focuses on the murder of several people – the rapper claims, "I know these words are so nutty, but I'm just here to entertain".
Stand-out track Arose is breathtakingly raw. The song captures Mathers’ struggles with drug-use, his dysfunctional family, and the death of his best friend, Proof. In an emotional farewell message to his loved ones, the rapper explains what would have been if he had not survived his drug overdose in 2007.
Currently, the music which focuses on Mathers’ personal journey is in another league compared to those created under his Slim Shady persona. So, we can only hope that Eminem does metaphorically "wash out the blonde".