Despite Eminem scoring his eighth consecutive No. 1 album, “Revival” is not what we’ve come to expect from one of the most decorated rappers in history.
The Detroit legend and hip-hop icon has been known for being unapologetically himself, whether the public approves of it or not. With genre-defining songs such as “Stan,” “Lose Yourself,” “Rap God,” “The Real Slim Shady” and many more, we hold the most technically skilled rapper on an extremely high pedestal — and perhaps wrongly so.
The road to “Revival” was an interesting, albeit promising one.
During the most recent BET Hip-hop Awards Eminem performed a freestyle attacking the political climate that has ravaged out of control during 2017, remarking on Donald Trump’s political career. A month or so afterwards, Eminem released a song called “Walk On Water,” featuring Beyoncé. The single, although leaving much to be desired from Beyoncé, was a compelling track in which Eminem explores his stardom and fading relevancy. Here he opens with “Why are expectations so high? Is it the bar I set?”
The answer is yes.
Throughout the song, the sound of crumpling paper can be heard, bars that will never see the light of day. Structurally the whole song bears resemblance to Kendrick Lamar’s “The Heart Part 4.” All in all, the song is an enjoyable listen and a keyhole look into the mind of an artist who feels his success slipping away — but in the context of the album as a whole, it serves as an ominous warning.
After the release and praise of “Walk on Water” came the full track list for “Revival” — and it was concerning to say the least.
Alicia Keys, X Ambassadors, Skylar Grey, Kehlani, P!nk, and the most troublesome feature: the overrated, red-maned, guitar-wielding man known as Ed Sheeran, all played a part on Eminem’s attempt to reignite his career.
With the release of “Revival,” my speculations about the odd pairing of artists was sadly confirmed.
Almost every track with a featured guest felt overly forced: a crutch for the ailing rapper to lean on. The few features that pay off are Beyoncé and maybe X-Ambassadors. It gets egregious, to the point where “Need Me,” featuring P!nk doesn’t even feature Eminem until the two-minute mark.
Along with the barrage of hit-or-miss features, what makes “Revival” an insignificant album is its lyrical content.
At it’s lowest point, Eminem has brought the line, “Your booty is heavy duty like diarrhea” into this world — and the world is a lesser place because of it. The majority of the album’s lyrics could be considered a sin against the musical art form for being as terrible as they are.
If these are the lyrics that made the final cut, what monstrosities could possibly have been on the papers that were being crumpled up on “Walk On Water”?
Not only are the lyrics subpar, the topics become repetitive — at least six of the 17 tracks contain at least one lyric about Trump or politics. I would have thought that Eminem’s four-minute lackluster freestyle would have helped him air out all he needed to say about Trump, though perhaps we, as the audience, are mistaken.
No matter how bad the feature or how cringeworthy the lyrics may be, no song in Eminem’s discography could come close to being as bad as his track “Untouchable.”
This song is unlistenable — nowhere near good enough for any artist to release, let alone Eminem, with everything he has accomplished in his career. “Untouchable” is hopefully what rock bottom looks like for the once-great rapper, because I couldn’t, in my wildest dreams, think of a song that could be more shallow, disingenuous and phoned-in.
On “Framed” however, we finally get to see a glimpse of the real Slim Shady.
The quirky production and comically enjoyably delivery takes listeners back to a time when the world hung on every word the bleached-haired psychopath spoke. Though an extremely brief reappearance, it is perhaps the only glimmer of hope that shines on “Revival.”
The album cover for “Revival” depicts Eminem holding his head down while covering his face with his hand; he has a look of disappointment and shame. My first thoughts of the cover were that he was ashamed of the current political climate in America, but it’s clear that the album cover depicts Eminem listening to his own album.
I feel the same way.
Colton Newman is the photo editor and a music writer for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Coltonperson.