For the first two albums, Eminem was pretty much untouchable, the right mixture of bitterness, humour, horror, vendettas and goofing around. As time went on though, the schtick became watered down and many of us who loved Slim Shady moved on, probably into the world of L’il Wayne who has been lighting up the rap world as Eminem’s light appeared to be going on.
Well, never underestimate Marshall Mathers, seems to be the lesson here. Freshly sober and clean and back on the scene, you might imagine the worst kind of therapeutic garbage available, but this Shady is just as potent as the booze loving original. There’s no running away from the issue of Eminem’s recent troubles as the opening skit ‘Dr West’ faces it head-on before we are slammed into the hard hitting and disturbing ‘3am’. Think Marshall has calmed and matured? ‘My Mom’ would suggest he still has the same hang-ups as before, but he’s handling them in an even more brutal fashion – let’s just say he will be off his mom’s xmas card list again…
Nothing is sacred, who else would have a song that sees our narrator picking a fight with Christopher Reeve, who disses him via his voicebox? Or describe how he wanted to be a normal kid playing with Teddy Ruxpin whilst his stepfather wanted sexual favours? There’s a lighter side with the awesomely catchy ‘We Made You’ and ‘Old Times Sake’ featuring Dr Dre, but there’s a brilliant sense of menace throughout which leaves you unsure of where Eminem is going next. The only time this disappoints is with the tedious overplaying of ‘Beautiful’ which seems to have been imported from a completely different record. A rubbish one.
Aside from this blip though, this is a glorious return to form, far from a relapse, Eminem seems be here to cure the rap world of any ailments, whilst taking swipes at Lindsay Lohan, Hannah Montana, Ellen and anyone else who pops into his hyperactive brain. The real Slim Shady appears to have stood up, let’s hope he stays at the top of his game. Awesome.