Last year he returned with Relapse, an uneven collection that at its best lucidly detailed the depths of his battle and at its worst came across as hackneyed. On the recently released Recovery, Eminem decided to return to his earlier work for inspiration.
"I would go back and listen to songs off The Marshall Mathers LP, The Eminem Show, and some of Encore and ask, 'Why don't my music feel like this anymore?' " Em said. " 'The Way I Am,' 'Criminal' and 'Toy Soldiers' were songs that meant something. I wanted there to be a reason why I was making each song, instead of making it just to make it."
During the recording of his two albums prior to Recovery, Em said, he was either in full-blown addiction mode (Encore) or so freshly sober (Relapse) that he was unable to focus correctly on the material he made.
"I was like, 'Sh--, man, trees are beautiful again,' " Em said, describing the way he viewed the world during the making of Relapse. "'What a nice day it is.' I don't think I was paying attention to what the average listener might like or not like."
Em said that he now wants to focus on earning the praise of his peers and die-hard fans with Recovery.
Then, he'll focus on hitting the road.
He's set to appear at music festivals both abroad and in the United States this summer, and he's playing shows with Jay-Z in Detroit and New York in September.
But the superstar MC is cautious about returning to a major touring schedule.
"I'll do these shows and see how I feel afterward, then set up a couple more," he said. "I've had to relearn to do shows sober, because there were so many years that I didn't know how to do it. Alcohol, Valium — all these things were crutches for me so that I didn't have to feel anything when I went onstage. Everything right now is a step at a time, a day at a time."
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