Eight years ago Eminem was pissing everyone off.
Today he is trying to do it again.
We all know the story, he was at the top and fell off only to disappear from the public eye and then become a tabloid sensation, more so due to his exclusiveness. He lost his best friend which prompted some peace talks with another old friend (how about a Bad Meets Evil/Slaughterhouse collabo?) and went into the lab with the first person to see in him what we all did at one point in time.
In a recent Vibe interview Shady stated that he is once again getting high off music again. While the depths of his addiction can be debated forever I will say that throughout Relapse it is clearly evident we are hearing a revitalized and energetic Eminem. Say what you will about his silly voices - I've hated plenty - they serve a purpose; no one wants to hear a story about young Marshall getting raped by his step father in a serious and somber tone, although I would have been fine not hearing the story at all.
While they came across as incredibly grating on the first couple listens, by the sixth it's barely noticeable. On "Medicine Ball" as Dre gives us his trade mark deep bass sounds and earth shaking kicks the "voice" sounds as if it's in harmony with the beat. This is a common occurrence and aside from "We Made You" proves effective in utilizing the sounds within Eminem's voice, letting him play mulitiple characters and giving he and Dre the sound they've been missing together.
Even with this sound in tact and Eminem's focus clear, Relapse doesn't push any bounds. It's not the next shit Dre and the Aftermath camp have done in the past. If you weren't expecting that than great - I certainly wasn't expecting half of what we have received, which made for a pleasant surprise. Eminem decided to forgo much serious and relevant topics for witty jabs at celebrities, stories about parties and another song aimed at his mom, something that at this point seems to just be arbitrary with no real purpose other than to cause controversy. The first step to getting help is facing yourself and the problem you created, just because your Mom took pills doesn't make her the reason you are an addict, sorry Marshall.
Between his invigorated flow and pristine story telling Relapse will keep you listening and nodding along to it for months to come. It probably won't be mentioned at the end of the year though, as it lacks anything new. The technical skills that made him famous are once again in place but for me personally I could use about half the comedy in exchange for something a little more relevant - grow up Mr. Mathers. This is not what he does however and for his fans who have always enjoyed the shock value in his rhymes you will have plenty to eat up.
And for all the Dre lovers out there, this is quite possibly the laziest produced Dr. Dre project ever released. Nothing here is new. All of these beats could have been left overs from 2001. That is not to say they are out rightly bad, just demonstrative of Dre's age and lack of relevance when compared to what is going on today within Hip Hop, especially in his hometown - LA is on some next level sounds right now.
If you have ever enjoyed Eminem and Dr. Dre this album will bring you enjoyment again. Like an old friend you haven't seen in a long time Relapse reminds you of their best qualities, those which you missed for all those years.