A long-awaited, long overdue, ninth album of one of the best-selling rap artists ever, Eminem, has finally arrived. With 19 tracks, Eminem is trying to rap about many things: from his troubled love with ex-wife Kim to his disagreement with Donald Trump’s politics. The latter isn’t anything new, since Eminem has a tendency to confront U.S. Presidents, as seen in his previous works where he tackled George W. Bush.
If we compare Revival to some of his older works, we can notice that he matured. Of course, his lyrics are still sharp and direct, but there are moments when it seems like he has too much he wants to prove: that he is still number one in the rap scene and that he is still relevant.
His political engagement on the album is seemingly strong, criticizing police brutality with “Untouchable,” provoking mixed critics, bringing up own white privileges, and discussing institutional racism. In the track “Like Home” – where he collaborated with Alicia Keys – Eminem strongly stands up against military transphobia.
A refreshing thing on Revival is a significant number of collaborations with others, mostly pop artists. “Walk on Water”, featuring Beyoncé, was the first single from the album and got a positive feedback from the fans, while collab with Ed Sheeran on “River” became an instant hit. Melodic verse sang by British singer/songwriter and Eminem’s intimate lyrics just hit the right spots.
But the bunch of pop-y additions to the album also worked against Eminem. He shifted from his previous style which included him carrying most of the load by himself and demonstrating almost an unparalleled ability of storytelling. There is some of that here as well, but not as much as one would want. This album doesn’t stand among his best work, but it is also not the worst album ever like some would like to portray. In general, Revival is 77 minutes long confession, a personal view of the many of today’s issues. Eminem’s previous success is actually serving as his downfall this time. Having made such a big name for himself, one would say the only way to go is down. Final thought: Will the real Slim Shady please stand up!?
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Revival was released on December 15, 2017