Eminem, the great white, late nineties, early noughties hype has finally dropped Revival, his err… what is this, his ninth album? Now before I go on I’ll point out that I was never a fan of his; his audio and visual aesthetic was too cartoonish, his voice was too high-pitched and nasally, his style was too similar to other artists, his fans were oblivious to other (better) rappers, but all that being said, I could slightly see the appeal especially if you were some white kid who never listened to Hip-Hop. Many years have now passed since Eminem’s heyday, his bleached blonde hair has gone, his fake angst has wained, his daughter is old, his fans are older, he’s had Sacha Baron Cohen‘s balls in his face, he’s made weak-as-fuck tracks (even by his standards) with the likes of Bruno Mars and Rihanna, it’s got to the point now that even his fans don’t like his music…
Eminem is fucking rotten nowadays. Unlistenable.—
THE PYRAMID (@robertflorence) December 09, 2017
Thankfully, after all the years of excessive overrating, both critics and fans (at least some of them) have finally come to the conclusion that maybe Eminem isn’t a genius, maybe he isn’t a rap god, maybe he isn’t the greatest of all time. With opinion finally coming into line with the rest of us, Revival, his latest album, may once and for all show that the man who every publication and channel was plugging like mad during the dawn of the millennium wasn’t as brilliant as everybody originally said. Because let’s face it, while Eminem’s skills have diminished, other Hip-Hop artists his age and older have remained credible and have recently released music still worthy of appreciation.
While Marshall Mathers has been secluded away in some mansion making this shite comeback, Hip-Hop has essentially splintered into two distinct and conflicting styles; nineties Trap on one side and nineties Boom Bap on the other. I guess not being innovative is the scourge of contemporary Hip-Hop but whichever camp you side with, Eminem in 2017 fits into neither. Don’t forget that he came a bit too late in the nineties to be from the golden era and he came too soon to be part of the south/midwest emulation in the noughties, so this being his “Revival”, Eminem is trying to revive something that nobody wants, and unfortunately for him, unwanted is essentially what this album is. This LP contains neither the wannabe controversial, crossover stuff he used to do early in his career and it’s definitely not original or inventive, so what’s the point? If your “revival” fails at reviving your career, then you’re obviously out of tune with the music, the culture, and the fans.
Since I’m reviewing this shite, let me just say point blank that Revival isn’t the kind of release which warrants a track-by-track breakdown because it’s disappointing in every way; lyrics, content, flow, delivery, production, and features. The songs are too long, there’s too many of them, this release is 1 hour 17 minutes long but it feels like double that. The album has 19 tracks but there’s no variation anywhere, this is back-to-back mediocre production with mediocre lyricism laid over all of it. It’s chock full of Eminem bragging about his skills and talent, and the fact that he’s lost both (if indeed he had any to begin with) is ironic. The LP is 70% narcissism and conceitedness blended with self-deprecation, please feel sorry for this rich rapper who used to be number 1! The other 30% is him “siding with minorities” as he supposedly did on that wack-as-fuck anti-Trump BET cypher.
Take the song “Untouchable” for example, it’s 6 minutes 10 seconds of racial politics; from police brutality to the take a knee protest, segregation, the American flag, it’s all tackled and sorted ’cause this rich white rapper has spoken about it. Thanks Slim! This song along with a few other racially-charged tracks for me are in bad taste, especially considering his pre-fame ode-to-racism “Foolish Pride”. Because of this, when you hear Eminem speaking from the point of view of a black person in “Untouchable”, you feel slightly uncomfortable. Going away from minority fawning for a second, this particular bullshit is rapped over some uninspired production with a terrible, Rock-esque chorus.
Back to the topic of racism, there’s also “Like Home” featuring Alicia Keys, okay so some of the lines aren’t bad but once again the production is lame, the chorus is lame, and that racial shit is both hypocritical and trying too hard to appeal to minorities. I mean when exactly was this magical time when America wasn’t prejudice? If Eminem was an actual minority he’d know that even back when he wore dungarees and a hockey mask, cops and presidents hated ethnic and sexual minorities. Shit hasn’t changed one bit for people of colour, for gay people, for transgender people, the only thing that’s changed is that it’s become stylish to be “pro-minority” these days, in fact it’s an obligatory, meaningless thing to say and do. Are we not sick of fake liberals from the entertainment world feeling good about themselves as they flitting-ly say something against bigotry when bigotry has always been present, even from their demographic? Hell, Eminem once contributed to it for fuck’s sake.
“Heat” has an appalling chorus married with another appalling guitar-laden beat. With mentions of Donald Trump yet again, you really get pissed off at this point. I mean Eminem, a racist in his past now wants to criticise Donald Trump’s racism and be taken seriously? Along with the aforementioned BET cypher, I guess we’re supposed to believe that Donald Trump is firmly in Eminem’s crosshairs, and yet nobody thinks it’s strange that this ex-blonde, ex-racist is having a go at a current-blonde, current-racist? All I’m saying is that if Eminem once thought it was okay to call black girls “dumb chicks” and white girls “good chicks”, it’s nigh on impossible to buy Slim Shady as an anti-racism crusader.
He may no longer have an Aryan peroxide blonde hair-do but ironically with brown hair and an army cap, he looks more like a far-right, race-war prepper than ever before, especially with that AmeriKKKan flag plastered all over his album cover. The whole thing to me seems very ill-judged, like a facade created in order to mask his historical cracks. And like I said, considering his previous lyrics about “black girls”, guests Alicia Keys and Beyonce really need to check their selling out. All-in-all, this is liberal pandering and minority placating at its worst.
Aside from the racial politics however, the rest of Revival is nothing to write home about either. The album begins with “Walk on Water” featuring fellow has-been Beyoncé singing crap like “I walk on water, but I ain’t no Jesus, I walk on water, but only when it freezes” over a forgettable piano melody. Double negatives aside, this trash is indicative of the rest of the album; badly-written, corny Hip-Pop with Eminem impressing nobody but himself with his calm-then-shouty, annoying delivery…
The features on this album are very lacklustre if not middle-of-the-road; some of the “guests” aren’t exactly relevant any more (Alicia Keys, Pink, Beyonce) and the rest are little contemporary cum-stains (Skylar Grey with her mediocre voice and that overrated ginger hairball Ed Sheeran).
The topics, like I’ve already said are essentially self-absorption with Em exclaiming shit like “I wrote Stan!” (wow, what an achievement) and asking why he’s “clowned and frowned upon”, err, maybe because you’re making trash? “Believe” contains a horribly out of date chorus that’s too noughties and too Pop sounding. Bragging about living in a gated community against horribly basic production, with faint piano sounds, the song is simply terrible. With the lyrics harking back, talking about his own career – his ups, his downs – who the fuck really cares?
The production on Revival goes from bad to worse the further you get, there’s “Chloraseptic” featuring Phresher which contains the most amateur beat I’ve heard in a long time, it seriously sounds like some teenager created this crap in their bedroom back in 2005. With the line “The shit I wrote on some next shit” you think to yourself, really? And someone should tell these two that Akinyele already used the Chlorasceptic/oral sex metaphor way before Slim Shady even dropped his first overrated record.
There’s also constant nods to Pop music everywhere in this LP as though Eminem has forgotten completely about his alleged “Hardcore Hip-Hop” fans. “In Your Head” for instance sports a sample from 9/11 sellouts The Cranberries. And when you hear the “I Love Rock’N’Roll” sample on “Remind Me” you think to yourself, Alan Merrill or Joan Jett will be rolling in their graves… at least if they were dead, and hearing this song, it may drive them both to suicide.
By the tenth track (or even earlier) you begin to get utterly bored of the mediocre, same-same flow and delivery, not to mention the lame production. The noughties Hip-Pop corniness then becomes grating to the ears. If I weren’t reviewing Revival I would have switched the fucking thing off a quarter of the way in.
The other problem with this LP is that I felt myself cringing throughout the album, partly because of the out-of-style raps and beats and partly because of his embarrassing topics and choruses. A middle-aged cornball talking about being a “Bad Husband” for instance with X Ambassadors providing an equally laughable chorus, this LP really is long-winded, repetitious, and cringeworthy.
“Nowhere Fast” featuring Kehlani contains yet more corny lyrics (speaking about some terrorist shite with yet another lame-as-fuck hook) and there’s a very trite and predictable “Korea/career” lyric which isn’t particularly clever even though, I’m sure Eminem thinks it is, just like that “Racism’s the only thing he’s Fantastic Four/for ’cause that’s how he gets his rock off, he’s orange” Trump lyric from the aforementioned BET cypher.
To close, Revival is an utter piece of excrement, whether you’re a fan of Eminem or not. The songs are too long, the album is even longer, you should probably only listen if you have a hankering to hear an out of touch, washed-up middle aged man waxing lyrical about his personal, non-issues. Ooh, let’s all feel sorry for the rich, ex-racist, overrated, white middle-class, non-Hip-Hop-fan-enticer as we hand over our hard-earned cash for a badly constructed, badly composed skid-mark of an album.
Looking like a depressed transexual especially with that glued-on beard, Eminem these days strangely resembles Mariah Carey’s impersonation of him. With a look and sound that’s now from the wrong decade, I really wonder who’s going to buy this crap, for me this album is as bad as 50 Cent’s Animal Ambition.
Eminem went from sounding like AZ to Masta-Ace-slash-Chino-XL to Tonedeff, but comparing any of those rappers’ recent work to this LP and you can plainly hear who was and still is the original talent. Similar to Kendrick Lamar, Eminem used to be the critically overrated, mainstream wonderboy of Hip-Pop, but in both Mathers’ and Duckworth’s case you could only buy into some of this overrating during their first or second album. Eminem being much further along in his career than Lamar, he has now reached the point where he has no real drive left. He’s probably sat in some villa cut-off from what’s in fashion and this LP is the result of having all the riches but none of the passion, basically someone falling the fuck off. I never liked the man anyway but this release makes Eminem’s old shit sound like Illmatic (which it definitely wasn’t). With this album he’s going…