Originally posted January 26, 2011. Last updated March 2, 2019.
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)
“This lean, mean bipolar machine began life as Relapse 2” DJ, a sequel to Eminem’s 2009 album Relapse. However, “when Shady decided he wasn’t really Shady at the moment and that he was no longer keen on Relapse” DJ he went with this collection that “features more introspective and emotional content than its predecessor.” WK Critic Robert Christgau says this is Em at “his most confessional” WK and, as Eminem himself says “on Talkin’ 2 Myself – it became Marshall Mathers time again.” DJ
In its debut week, Recovery sold over 700,000 copies, making Eminem the first artist in Soundscan history to have four albums debut at such lofty heights. WK Lead single, Not Afraid, became only the second rap song to debut at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. WK Love the Way You Lie, which featured Rihanna in a song which referenced her own recent trouble in an abusive relationship, debuted at #2 and went on to #1.
From a critical standpoint, “it becomes obvious that Eminem’s richest albums aren’t necessarily his most structurally sound, which isn’t much of a surprise when considering the rapper’s full-on embrace of flaws and contradictions.” DJ “This results in an album where a shameless but killer Michael J. Fox punch line (‘The world will stop spinnin’ and Michael J. Fox’ll come to a standstill’ from Cold Wind) is followed by a song with another, less effective MJF joke (‘Make like Michael J. Fox in your drawers, playin’ with an Etch-A-Sketch’), although that song is the lurching heavy metal monster Won’t Back Down with P!nk, and it could be used as the lead-in to ‘Lose Yourself’ on any ego-boosting mixtape.” DJ
“Following an apology for your recent work with a damnation of critics and haters is just sloppy; taking off the skits and then overstuffing your album by a track or two is undermining what’s good; and the beats here are collectively just a B+ with only one production (the so good So Bad) coming from Dr. Dre. Add to that the detractor idea that being privy to the man’s therapy sessions just isn’t compelling anymore and the only persuasive moments remaining are the highlights, but fans can feed on the energy, the renewed sense of purpose, and Marshall doing whatever the hell he wants.” DJ
This includes “shoehorning a grand D12-like comedy number (W.T.P., which stands for ‘White Trash Party’) into this emotionally heavy album. It’s fascinating when Em admits ‘Hatred was flowin’ through my veins, on the verge of goin’ insane/ I almost made a song dissin’ Lil Wayne’ and then ‘Thank God I didn’t do it/ I’da had my ass handed to me, and I knew it’ before sparring with said Weezy on the Haddaway-sampling No Love.” DJ
“When the recovery-minded Going Through Changes gets back on the wagon by sampling Black Sabbath’s very druggy ‘Changes’ it’s a brilliant and layered idea that’s executed with poignant lyrics on top. Add the man at his most profound…and his most profane (‘You wanna get graphic? We can go the scenic route/ You couldn’t make a bulimic puke on a piece of corn and peanut poop’ from On Fire)…and the fans who really listen are instantly on board.” DJ
Certainly there was some criticism of the album. Andy Gill of The Independent said there is “nothing here quite as engaging as” Em’s previous albums WK and Pitchfork Media’s Jayson Greene said that “for the first time in his career, he actually sounds clumsy.” WK Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune said the album was “brutally short on hooks and, most of all, fun.” WK
Still, Eminem received plenty of praise for the album. Entertainment Weekly’s Simon Vozick-Levinson says, “Eminem’s lyrical craftsmanship is second to none…and there are flashes of new maturity.” WK Of similar sentiment is USA Today’s Steve Jones comments that the album is “a strong return to form.” WK “It may be flawed and the rapper’s attitude is sometimes one step ahead of his output, but he hasn’t sounded this unfiltered and proud since The Marshall Mathers LP.” DJ As Rolling Stone’s Jody Rosen said, it is Eminem’s “most casual-sounding album in years.” WK