Eminem returned from a five-year hiatus last year with the release of Relapse, and, fortunately for fans, he’s back again just a year later with his new offering, Recovery, which was released Monday (June 21).
The collection marks the first time the Detroit MC has broken free from his network of go-to collaborators, like Dr. Dre and the Shady Records camp, to work with outside talent such as Just Blaze, DJ Khalil, Jim Jonsin, Pink and Rihanna. The album continues Eminem’s post-drug-dependency life as he narrates his experiences through sober eyes. Here, MTV News delivers the goods on the set:
1. “Cold Wind Blows”
Eminem reasserts his lyrical dominance on the opener, forcefully spitting his rhymes with the bravado of a young backpack MC and avoiding any kitschy humor or the accents that bogged down verses on his previous effort.
Illuminating Rhymes: “Drop the anvil, these are shoes that you can’t fill/ Sh–, the day that happens the world will stop spinning and Michael J. Fox will come to a standstill.”
2. “Talkin’ 2 Myself”
Em turns inward on this one. Instead of reveling in the details of his drug dependency, à la Relapse, he spins a tale about the psychological toll his demons caused.
Illuminating Rhymes: “I went away, I guess, and opened up some lanes/ But there was no one who even knew I was going through growing pains/ Hate was flowing through my veins/ On the verge of going insane/ I almost made a song dissing Lil Wayne.”
3. “On Fire”
The Shady One takes it back to his 8 Mile days here: straight rhymes with a hook that’s present by happenstance.
Illuminating Rhymes: “I just put a bullsh– hook in between two long-ass verses/ If you mistook this for a song, look, this ain’t a song it’s a warning/ To Brooke Hogan and David Cook that the crook just took over, so book.”
4. “Won’t Back Down”
A defiant Eminem unleashes a battle-rhyme salvo to his detractors.
Illuminating Rhymes: “Listen, garden tool/ Don’t make me introduce you to my power tool/ You know the f—ing drill/ How you douche bags feel?/ Knowing you’re disposable, Summer’s Eve, Massengill.”
Marshall Mathers revisits his roots on this one, taking it back to backyard boogies in this ode to white-trash parties.
Illuminating Rhymes: “Pull out a fifth of Bacardi from out my underwear/ And walk around the party without a care, like a body without a head/ Looking like a zombie from ‘Night of the Living Dead’/ And tomorrow probably still be too high to get out of bed.”
6. “Going Through Changes”
On one of the heavier tracks on Recovery, Eminem turns confessional, touching on past suicidal thoughts, fears of failing to be a good father and his friends not being able to relate to the new Marshall Mathers.
Illuminating Rhymes: “Marshall, what happened that you/ Can’t stop with these pills and you falling off with your skills/ And your own fans are laughing at you?”
7. “Not Afraid”
A departure from the usual lead cuts, Eminem eschews jabs at pop-culture icons and goofballing in favor of introspection.
Illuminating Rhymes: “To the fans, I never let you down again, I’m back/ I promise to never go back on that promise/ In fact, let’s be honest/ That last Relapse CD was ‘ehh’/ Perhaps I ran them accents into the ground/ Relax, I ain’t going to do that now.”
Slim Shady turns Don Juan as he lures the ladies with his lyrics over this woozy production.
Illuminating Rhymes: “She’s sitting here getting liquored up at the bar/ She says it’s quicker to count the things that ain’t wrong with you than to count the things that are/ There’s a seven-disc CD changer in her car/ And I’m in every single slot and you’re not, aww.”
9. “No Love”
(featuring Lil Wayne)
Eminem and Wayne face off on this Just Blaze-produced number, on which the two trade verses and leave the track smoking hot, like one of Suge Knight’s cigars.
Illuminating Rhymes: “Get these wack co——ers offstage/ Where’s Kanye when you need him?”
10. “Space Bound”
Eminem is bitten by the love bug in this tale, but unfortunately the girl of his dreams isn’t — which causes the rapper to take his own life if he can’t have her.
Illuminating Rhymes: “Don’t play games, it’ll be dangerous/ If you f— me over, ’cause if I get burnt, I’mma show ya/ What it’s like to hurt, ’cause I’ve been treated like dirt before ya/ And love is evil, spell it backwards, I’ll show ya.”
11. “Cinderella Man”
He’s the baddest MC at the (rap) ball, and with a clearer conscience, Em’s not taking his talent for granted.
Illuminating Rhymes: “Who forms pyramids and rap circles around square lyricists/ Who? Here’s a clue/ He came to the ball in his wife-beater, lost his Nike/ Now it’s in your ass, he’s in your ass, he’s all up in your psyche too.”
12. “25 to Life”
Eminem compares his career to a bad marriage, detailing how his devotion to hip-hop and the resulting fame left his life devoid of simple freedoms.
Illuminating Rhymes: “Look at how I dress, f—ing baggy sweats, go to work a mess/ Always in a rush to get back to you, I ain’t heard you yet/ Not even once say you appreciate me, I deserve respect.”
13. “So Bad”
Eminem boasts and brags here, revisiting his “Superman” days.
Illuminating Rhymes: “Same sh–, different toilet, oh you got a nice ass, darling/ Can’t wait to get you into my Benz, take you for a spin/ What you mean we ain’t f—ing, you take me for a friend?”
14. “Almost Famous”
Shady wags his fingers at those who want to trade places and fill his shoes, a heavy task, according to him.
Illuminating Rhymes: “I stuck my di– in this game like a rapist, they call me Slim Roethlisberger/ I go berserker than a fed-up post-office worker/ A murker with a Mossberg, I’m pissed off, get murdered.”
15. “Love the Way You Lie”
The Detroit rapper revisits old material — his love affair with ex-wife Kim — but this time, a sober, more mature Eminem places their relationship in the context of how they hurt each other.
Illuminating Rhymes: “Wait, where you going? I’m leaving you/ No, you ain’t, come back/ We running right back/ Here we go again/ It’s insane, ’cause when it’s going good, it’s going great/ I’m Superman, with the wind to his back/ She’s Lois Lane/ But when it’s bad, it’s awful/ I feel so ashamed/ I snap, ‘Who’s that dude? I don’t even know his name’/ I laid hands on her/ I’ll never stoop so low again/ I guess I don’t know my own strength.”
16. “You’re Never Over”
A dedication to Eminem’s late best friend, D12 member Proof .
Illuminating Rhymes: “For you, I wanna write the sickest rhyme of my life/ So sick it’ll blow up the mic, it’ll put the dyna in mite.”
17. “Untitled” (bonus track)
Shady’s back on this one, as Eminem pushes the boundaries with his bawdy rhymes.
Illuminating Rhymes: “Shady, I don’t understand your flow, understand my flow/ Bitch, I flow like Troy Polamalu’s hair, boy/ Don’t you dare try to follow or compare, boy.”
Are you excited for Eminem’s new album? Let us know in the comments!
It’s Eminem Week at MTV News, so stick with us as we celebrate the release of Recovery and take you inside the making of Em’s latest album.