The WINs & FAILs of Eminem’s ‘Recovery’

A few notable revelations practically scream out of the speakers after one listen to Eminem’s therapeutic comeback album Recovery. It’s indeed possible for a former drug addict to create a focused work that manages to reach the boundless lyrical heights of his pill popping past triumphs. Em has gotten back the devastating sense of humor he seemingly lost on his cold and directionless 2009 release, Relapse. And Slim Shady is not afraid to get emo. We’re talking that beating-bloody-heart-in-the-hand emo. VIBE dissected the set—which features production from the likes of Just Blaze, DJ Khalil, Mr. Porter, Dr. Dre and Mobb Deep’s Havoc—to find out if Eminem’s return is worth the back-from-the-dead hype.—Keith Murphy


1. Apparently, Eminem is so gloriously offensive that God strikes him with lightening during the punch-line opening track “Cold War.” But with hand-over-mouth lines like, “Motherfucker, I might as well let my lips pucker like Elton John ‘cause I’m just a mean cock sucker,” maybe the man upstairs has a point.

2. We saw you cringing when white R&B acolyte turned tough pop-rocker chick Pink was announced as one of the collabos on Recovery. But shockingly, the cool-strutting “Won’t Back Down” more than works with its two-fisted bluesy cadence and deadly sharp Eminem quotables like, “Girl, shake that ass like a donkey with Parkinson’s/Make like Michael J. Fox is in your drawers playing with an Etch A Sketch.” Yikes.

3. Yes, we’ve heard it all before. His fear of losing his beloved daughter Hailie; his addiction to prescription pills; confronting the realization that drugs have eroded his skills; the death of his mentor and best friend Proof. But few MCs can unleash such tortured soul pain like Eminem and makes it come off so damn unpretentious.

4. Incarcerated guest rhymer Lil’ Wayne is forced to watch in horror as Slim Shady has what amounts to a lyrical out-of-body experience on the creeping “No Love.” “They call me a freak ‘cause I like to spit on these pussies before I eat them/Man get these wack cocksuckers offstage…where the fuck is Kanye when you need him?” The white boy needs Jesus.

5. On any given day, Eminem is capable of being the best rapper alive. Need proof? See: “On Fire,” a song packed with the kind of intricate wordplay and ballsy punchlines that would make the late Big L give a pound from beyond the grave. “Hit a blind man with a coloring book and tell him color inside the lines or get hit with a flying crayon.”  Now that’s just wrong.