EMINEM "Relapse" Grade: D
By Glenn Gamboa
The most annoying thing about Eminem's latest album, "Relapse" (Aftermath), is the waste.
Oh, sure, he says disgusting things. He talks about giving a woman a crude, old-school abortion in "Medicine Ball." He fantasizes about kidnapping Hannah Montana and then forcing her to choose between marrying him or getting murdered in "Underground." And he graphically discusses getting sexually molested by his stepfather in "Insane."
But that's nothing new. That's just Em being Em. Right, fans? In "Medicine Ball," he even says, "I guess it's time for you to hate me again." That's his shtick. He makes outrageous statements because that's what separates him from everyone else. Without them, he feels he'd be just another rapper.
Of course, that's where he's wrong again. That's also where the waste comes in. Eminem is clearly a gifted rapper, both in his flow and in his rhymes. In Dr. Dre, he's found a sonic foil, someone who builds remarkable soundscapes designed for Eminem to shine. Throughout "Relapse," there are great beats, moments where Dre's edgy, twitchy synthesized groove glistens, only to be ruined by such ridiculous, childish rants as "My Mom" or the murderous "Same Song and Dance."
Those songs, all that shimmering production, it's all wasted on Eminem's rehash of his same old issues — his murderous thoughts, his hatred of homosexuals, his shabby treatment as a child. We've heard it all before. It's not unique and it's certainly not clever or humorous this time. Ragging on your mom doesn't make you a bigger man. It makes you look sad. Picking on Christopher Reeve or Lindsay Lohan or whatever starlet doesn't make you look clever. It makes you look lame.
In "Beautiful," he talks about giving up on rap, adding "I'll be one tough act to follow." That's true. But after "Relapse," maybe the time has come.
WHO'S EM FIGHTING NOW?
MARIAH CAREY & NICK CANNON: In "Bagpipes From Baghdad," he takes on his one-time girlfriend (Carey denies they ever seriously dated) and her new husband, calling them vulgar names and claiming he wants her back.
LINDSAY LOHAN: In "Same Song and Dance," he mocks her weight and offers a ride to rehab. In "We Made You," he mocks her former girlfriend and asks her "to come back to seeing men."
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: In "Medicine Ball," he mocks the late actor's health ailments and then fantasizes about killing him by pushing him into quicksand.
HIS MOM: In "My Mom," he runs through another list of atrocities she may or may not have put him through. The most damning? "That's why I am like I am, 'cause I'm like her." Apologize now, Em's mom!
Paula Abdul's "I'm Just Here for the Music" (Filament) is the kind of high-energy trifle that she used to own outright in her heyday. Sure, two decades later, she has to share the dance floor with Britney and Kylie (who originally recorded the song) and even Gaga, but the shiny production and pitch-perfect use of Auto-Tune should give Abdul enough currency to snag herself a hit.
ALSO NEW THIS WEEK
Kenny Chesney's "Greatest Hits II" (BNA)
Busta Rhymes' "Back on My B.S." (Flipmode)
Tori Amos' "Abnormally Attracted to Sin" (Universal Republic)
Jarvis Cocker's "Further Complications" (Rough Trade)
Lionel Richie teams with Akon on "Just Go" (Island)
Mat Kearney's "City of Black & White" (Aware)
Iron & Wine's "Around the Well" (Sub Pop)
The soundtrack to "True Blood" (Elektra)
Glenn Gamboa: email@example.com
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