Eminem’s ‘Revival’: Not what we expected


photo by xxlmag.com

by Carlos Choppin


Slim Shady.

Marshall Bruce Mathers II.


The legendary rapper, songwriter, producer, and actor released his latest and final album Revival last week on December 15th.

The album touches on a wide array of topics, including racism, Donald Trump, regrets of being a bad spouse, white privilege, and of course, the end of an unforgettable career. At first, the songs on ‘Revival’ almost seem sub-par.  Eminem sounds like a shell of his former self in terms of flow, while the critically-acclaimed artist’s lyrical prowess and rhyme skills remain the same:

“You’re a has-been, that has been the case since back when / You last went and threw your hat in the race, you’ve been trash, stick your raps in the trash bin / Or end up in my next rhyme, you’re a f***boy, so next time/It’s gonna be heads flyin’ like Dez Bryant / With a TEC-9 against Rex Ryan”

The best songs on the album were mostly collaborations with other popular artists, which allowed for the fan favorite Love The Way You Lie style of chorus. “River”, featuring Ed Sheeran, had a very similar vibe.

Although the songs on the album weren’t spectacular — in terms of rhythm and melody– I don’t believe Eminem’s goal was for the album to be appealing only to the ears. Instead it was more important to express his messages clearly.

Slim talks about being a good father but regrets lying to his wife and takes some of the blame for the problems in their marriage. Back in 2000, on one of Eminem’s early tours, he performed the song “Kim”, while punching a blow-up-doll version of his own wife on stage. This was unbearable for Kim Scott, and she attempted suicide soon after. More problems arose, and their first divorce was finalized in 2001. In previous songs, Eminem typically expressed feelings of anger towards his wife, which contradicts his approach on ‘Revival’.

“We brought out the worst in each other / Someone had to make the sparring end / ’Cause I loved you but I hated that me / And I don’t wanna see that side again / But I’m sorry, Kim, more than you could ever comprehend / Leaving you was f***ing harder than sawing off a f***ing body limb”

Another major part of the album is Mathers’ grievances when it comes to race in America. He talks about how he wishes that America would finally be unified and fair and how our country today isn’t what it was meant to be. How it’s not a land of the free and how America is still a nation infested with racist and hateful ideology.

“Home of the brave is still racist ‘ville / So this whole nation feels like a plantation field / In a country that claims that its foundation was based on United States ideals that had its Natives killed / Got you singing’ this star-spangled spiel / To a piece of cloth that represents the ‘Land of the Free’ that made people slaves to build”

There is also a bit of subliminal messaging included in the album. In the song “Untouchable”,  Eminem refers to white people as  “rockstars” and incorporates old rock songs to hint at the notion that he can still be white –and a rockstar– while having an opinion that contrasts those around him.

Eminem discusses the justice system’s unfairness and bias against African Americans mentioning the case of Freddie Gray; a black teenager who died in the custody of Baltimore Police. Out of all his political rhymes on the album the ones that stand out are his messages against President Donald Trump. On songs like ‘Untouchable’, Slim fires multiple shots against Trump and even calls for his impeachment. We got an early glimpse of this back in October, when the Detroit rapper called out President Trump on his BET freestyle

Overall, the album may have very few melodically appealing songs but it’s evident that Eminiem was more focused on the messages that he would portray in his final hurrah rather than making a pop hit. ‘Revival’ is said to be Eminem’s last album, and fans are glad that he chose to end his career on a high note, while having the last word on a variety of issues that have followed the superstar throughout his tenure in the rap game.            

You can listen to a sample of each song on Revival here.  Warning: explicit content.