There is no denying that Eminem is a possible candidate for a spot on the list of the greatest rappers of all time. Where that candidacy comes into question is when talking about his discography as a whole. Surely, a top MC should boast a near-infallible collection of records. If that’s the case, Eminem slips from the upper echelons when we look at his post-Encore albums. Revival, his latest release, is a complete and utter failure in every single way.
Plagued by production that is stuck in the late 2000s craze of rap-rock, Revival sticks out in the modern hip-hop landscape for all the wrong reasons. The album has some of the laziest samples and beats one has ever heard. It’s a complete bloated mess clocking in at an hour and seventeen minutes over nineteen songs, fourteen of which are over four minutes long. Instead of possibly adopting ideas from modern rappers and having rappers featured on what could have been his redemption album, Eminem enlisted X Ambassadors, P!nk, Ed Sheeran, Beyoncé and Kehlani. Never before has a rap album had features that sounded so derivative and uninspired. Revival was, without a doubt, manufactured by focus groups and a need to pander to the pop audiences of the world despite the fact that artists like Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Travis Scott rule the radio stations with their art. Revival is a product of a factory, not art made in a studio.
Throughout the record, Eminem sticks with his choppy flow which, while helpful when spitting at Rap-God-type speeds, is absolutely disruptive for a pop-rap song with an Ed Sheeran feature. Revival’s biggest issue is that it sticks to the conventions that could only come from an out-of-touch 60-year-old executive’s mind: lazy rock samples, generic pop features and played out story tropes.
Corny, abrasive and blunt lyrics are largely what gave Eminem his rise to fame in the start of his career. Now, devoid of anything new to say, the rhymes and wordplay don’t have any redeeming factors.
His intent with his verbal shots at President Trump scattered throughout the project seemed authentic; they’re legitimate qualms with a president who has found success with dividing people rather than uniting. However pure that intent may have been, the messages are stagnant. Eminem’s approach to the issues afflicting the country is dry and unimaginative. Even then, countless lines undercut any impact his statements may have had.
“Heat” has perhaps one of his most distasteful lyrics to date. Eminem raps, “Grab you by the (meow!), hope it’s not a problem, in fact / About the only thing I agree on with Donald is that / So when I put this palm on your cat / Don’t snap, it’s supposed to be grabbed / Why do you think they call it a snatch?” Condoning sexual assault has always been despicable, but now with a president who’s done the same and countless revelations of public figures who’ve used their power to assault women, Eminem’s “joke” — if it can be called that — is repulsive.
This album is quite literally the worst project Eminem has ever put out, and, personally speaking, the worst project I’ve heard in the last few years. Its one semi-redeeming song, “Framed,” doesn’t show up until Track 12, and by that point, Eminem has dragged you down a winding road forcing you to experience nothing but mediocrity so unbearable it’s near impossible to sit through the entirety of each individual track.
It’s disappointing seeing a legend fall from grace. Unfortunately, this could have been seen coming from miles away. What else could possibly happen when an artist reaches such high status that they become immune to criticism? Eminem’s untouchability is exactly what caused his descent from the top tier of rappers.