Eminem – ‘Relapse’

August 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Big Issue #332, July 2009.


From its opening skit, Relapse is one record that well and truly lives up to its title, but perhaps not in the manner in which its author intended. Almost five years since Encore, this bloated, 76-minute release sees Marshall Mathers rehash the same old ideas and themes he was spouting on The Slim Shady LP.

The thing is, a decade ago, Mathers’ girlfriend-killing, mother-hating, self-loathing shock tactics were original. Four albums later, they just seem tired. Granted, Em has turned it up a notch on Relapse. Here, he introduces a new generation of presumably teenage fans to celebrity stalking, murder, drugs and so many haphazard, desensitised rape references that you lose count. But while ugly, the record is so strident and consistent in such attempts to shock that it becomes trite and predictable.

The worst part is that in isolation, slivers of Relapse are quite serviceable. Veteran production maestro Dre shows he’s still on point with the shuddering boom-bap of cuts like ‘Bagpipes from Bagdad’ and lurking synths of ‘Same Song and Dance’. Em, too, still has the technical skills on the mic , running rings around typically lumbering 50 Cent guest verse on ‘Crack a Bottle’.

It’s just that content-wise Eminem’s cupboards are bare.

Dan Rule


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