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After bowing out of the hip hop scene in 2004 with his last album Encore many argue that the state of hip hop changed. Some say it had evolved, others say it was dead but Eminem’s return to the mic with his fifth album Relapse was supposed to mean that there was light at the end of a dark tunnel for a genre of music that has become obsessed with snapping fingers, auto-tune voice synthesizers and dance moves.

Almost like the second coming, with Eminem acting as hip hop’s saviour, and the beloved fans of hip hop being his followers that were tired of repetitive material that’s been released from other below par artists in his absence. But sadly the great return we expected just isn’t to be, as Relapse just fails to reward in more ways than one.

After a few tracks into the album you find yourself questioning where the creativity has gone. Before you know it you’re halfway through the album and you’re still looking for that song that holds enough weight to have you thinking to yourself “Yeah, Em is back”. Half the album them turns to three quarters and within no time at all Relapse is over and the LP has come and gone.

My Mom sees Eminem continue the never-ending feud with his mother proclaiming that “My mom loves valium and lots of drugs, that’s why I am like I am cos I’m like her”. Em then goes to say “I know your probably tired of hearing the, my mom”. And yes it’s exactly that we are tired.

Back in 1999 when it wasn’t uncommon for an artist to go three times platinum with an LP, and the dot com generation we live in today was somewhat non-existant we were intrigued about this slim caucasian artist that could lyrically go head to head with any rapper in the game but still make the world laugh with humorous banter directed toward his fellow celebrities.

But now, in today’s day and age it just fails to materialize and you question whether the Eminem that took the world by storm back then, is still the same Eminem that can make tunes that shoot up the charts like lightening again.

Bagpipes from Baghdad is another that sees ‘Em’ fire a tirade of insults at Nick Cannon over his relationship with a certain Mariah Carey who allgedlely had a relationship with Em in the past.

Posing the question “Mariah what ever happened to us?” and going on to say that “Nick Cannon better back the, f*** up”. Whether Slim Shady is serious or not it seems to be a case of we’ve been here before and really want something that holds more substance from Eminem, rather than controversial disses towards other celebrity figures.

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However, Eminem doesn’t stop there, he certainly doesn’t fail to disappoint on the controversy factor with remarks like “damn I think Kim Kardashian is a man” and boasting about inviting Sarah Palin to dinner to “nail her”. Ellen Degeneres and Jessica Alba are also on the receiving end of Em’s witty insults on We Made You. In spite of the constant celebrity bashing, the smooth production and the catchy chorus will have you humming along, Eminem fan or not.

The first single from the album Crack A Bottle sees rap heavyweights Dr Dre and 50 Cent come together for a track that could have the clubs rocking and your head bopping on your Ipod. After many years in the background Dr Dre returns to grace Crack a Bottle not only with his production but with smooth lyrics that propelled him to the top of raps elite. The party wouldn’t be complete without 50 who smoothly adds to the quality with an eloquent flow that seems to go just go hand in hand with the beat.

The dark Underground/Ken Kaniff has Eminem ripping through a heavy base beat coupled with strings and a thundering chorus that has Em saying “here comes the rain and thunder now… looking for me? I’m underground.” Its tracks like these that provide us with of a glimpse of the rapper that undoubtedly held the coveted title of the best rapper alive.

We all remember the Eminem that tore through his first album, The Slim Shady LP with a melodic flow that worked well with an unparalleled confidence that spurned lyrics like “I don’t give a damn, God sent me to piss the world off”.

Hip hop had someone that could potentially be mentioned in the same breath as Tupac’s, Biggie and Jay-Z’s of the of the game, but ten years on ‘Relapse’ isn’t going to be one of those albums that will aid Em’s argument for one of the best that ever done it.

Relapse is an album that may not have an immediate effect but will grow on you; Eminem fans that have been waiting so long will feel a little disappointed, but after a few times listening will gradually be satisfied.

However it isn’t to be that epic album that fans of hip hop of was expecting from Em, without a doubt we all know he is capable of it but you get the impression that ‘Em’ thought it would be easy to “regain his name” in the rap world as he so coolly states on Crack A Bottle, but in actual fact the task is much greater than he had anticipated.

Eminem, Relapse is out now

Review by Richard Ashie


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