By Sean Armstrong | Staff Writer
The brand new Eminem album, Revival, is more like a burial. Being billed as a self proclaimed resurrection of a dying career, the newest release begs the question: What career?
Eminem is sensational in the rap scene and still widely known and regarded. For that reason, it is unclear what exactly he thinks he is reviving.
Eminem has already tried to reboot his career twice in recent years as well, first with Recovery, an album he released after he got out of rehab. He then tried again with The Marshall Mathers LP 2, where the rapper tries to establish he has morally changed since The Marshall Mathers LP in 2000.
Both albums aimed to show that the rapper is different than he used to be. Recovery was an album that announced the rapper was back and ready to release new music, while The Marshall Mathers LP 2 was a personal reconciliation for Eminem. Those albums served different purposes in reviving Eminem, both professionally and personally, Revival fails to do either.
The album starts thematically confused and only nosedives from that point on. The songs don’t create any kind of larger message, and they seem to be mismatched in their arrangement. The featured single and opening to the album, “Walk on Water,” details the artist’s struggles in the latter part of his career. The next song continues this idea by then addressing the artists strengths rather than weaknesses as a rapper.
The first two tracks provide the foundation for what seems to be a developing concept album. However, that idea is quickly obliterated with “Untouchable,” and a pattern of thematic upheaval continues throughout. One or two songs will fit a style or have similar messages and seem like two sides of the same coin. The very next track, however, will be a one off about a totally different topic.
There is nothing wrong with doing an album that has no conceptual theme, but doing a half-and-half approach is really just a poor way to do anything that is aimed to instill meaning. Eminem would have served his music better by releasing the tracks in smaller mixtapes that grouped the songs by their similar themes.
As bad as this confused presentation is, there are still more problems to be had with Eminem’s latest attempt at a comeback. The first half is lyrically botched, for example. The lyrics aren’t bad necessarily, but the implementation of them with the music is just atrocious.
The words come in choppy at best. They don’t flow, they aren’t even on beat at times, and overall, Eminem sacrifices the sound of his music for his message. It is like the rapper completely disregarded music as an essential part of what allows him to say he is a rapper. The first half of the album is slam poetry, not rap, and while poetry has its time and place, it is not what fans have come to expect of the rapper.
The second half of the album has its own issues as well. The rap flows better with the music, and the lyrics are more effective, but here the unoriginality of Revival becomes readily blatant.
“Castle” is the hallmark for repetitiveness on the album. The song talks about Eminem’s relationship to his daughter, Hailie, and how his fame cost her a normal life. This is something Eminem has talked about plenty of times. He has talked about this in songs like “Hailie’s Songs” and “Mockingbird” and has woven it into many verses over the course of his illustrious career. If this is supposed to be a comeback then perhaps try something new.
There are times in this album when the listener catches a few moments of gold, but these are few and far between. These moments suggest that Eminem still has talent, but what good is talent when the product feels so uninspired?
That’s what Revival is: uninspired. For whatever reason, Eminem seemed to have panicked and released a half-hearted album that imposes an aura of confusion and desperation to those that listened.