Hard working class hero

 

CD OF THE WEEK: EMINEM Recovery Polydor  * * * *

Eminem has often gone with a comedy hip-hop track as the first single off a new album, but the lead single on his seventh studio release is Not Afraid– which, apart from featuring real singing, sees him dropping the annoying cartoon carry-on in favour of a penetrative confrontational style. Eminem refers to his last album (the unloved Relapse) as not being as good as it could be, addresses addiction issues, and says he’s “manning up” for the battle ahead.

Recoveryis the album Eminem should have made years ago, instead of the self-conscious filler that came in the wake of his breakthrough work. It plays on familiar “me against the world” themes but turns the volume down on the self-pity and sees him ready for the fight to reclaim his once pre-eminent position.

Opening with Cold Wind Blows  (“I’ve come back again, I hate the fame but love the game, here we go again”), musically this sees Eminem almost back in Infinityterritory and lyrically getting all splatter-gun as he provides a mini-sociological essay on the states of his mind and the US.

On Going Through Changes, the standout track and probably the next single, he paints a harrowing portrait of life chez Eminem. It sounds like an anti-self-help book that makes him out to be hip-hop’s Howard Hughes, such is its cataloguing of personal neuroses. There’s an artful inclusion of a Black Sabbath sample (one of Eminem’s trademarks is knowing which sample works where).

On Cinderella Man, which could almost pass for a Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy track, Eminem worries about fitting in.

Over a sparse and harsh percussive beat, he raps “Fuck my last CD, that shit’s in my trash, I’ll be God damned if another rapper gets in my ass, I hit the gas and I spit every rap as if it’s my last”.

Very much a portrait of someone on the ropes who’s swinging out wildly and more often than not connecting, Recovery shows that Eminem’s best defence is a full-frontal attack on most everyone and everything around him. He still excels at magnificently staccato rhyming patterns, he continues effortlessly to combines dark, mordant humour with South Park- style trite observations – and he’s still scaling some pretty vertiginous heights. See eminem.com

Download tracks: Cold Wind Blows, Going Through Changes