Still Offensive After All These Years

Relapse (Aftermath Records)
Eminem

By Kory Wilcoxson

Most artists would have faded into obscurity if they waited four years in between albums. But leave it to an enigmatic artist like Eminem to pick up right where he left off, engrossing and offending like he hasn't missed a Dr. Dre-produced beat.

Eminem continues to cultivate the dichotomous and somewhat contradictory existence he has crafted over several albums. On one hand, he's the iconoclastic rude boy, taking shots at easy targets like Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears and less obvious ones like Christopher Reeve. On the other hand, he's the misunderstood tortured artist, mistreated by his mom and prisoner to his own addictions. Will the real Eminem please stand up?

Relapse takes both sides of the rapper's personality to an extreme. The album is a veritable medicine cabinet, with almost every song referencing some sort of narcotic or prescription drug. Eminem both glorifies this lifestyle ("Medicine Ball") and blames it for his absence ("Déjà Vu"). He also ramps up his violent alter-ego, painting over-the-top scenarios of abduction and rape ("Same Old Song and Dance") that are too disturbing to be enjoyed.

What gets lost in Eminem's boasting and bravado is the undeniable fact that his rhymes and rapping have only gotten better. He can stretch a cadence or rhyme scheme to its breaking point, then zigzag flawlessly into a new lyrical direction. His flow is unmatched and his creativity far exceeds any other rapper out there. It's a shame it's being put to such debauched use.

Get more, if that's what you want, over at Eminem.com.