Album Review | Eminem – Relapse

If you haven’t noticed yet, Eminem dropped an album today, and I’ve been working on an Eminem Marathon for over a year now. Since I actually wanna be a part of the conversation with this new album, I’m gonna try to speed through his discography this week. It’s not like I really have that many albums to get through. Anyway, this album was released on May 19th in the year of our lord 2009. I think I’m gonna hate it. This is one of those albums that people seem to be split on. Some people really love it, but I think most people agree that it’s not good. I think I’ve only heard one song from this album, which was the single We Made You. I remember that song playing on the radio all the time back in the day. Honestly, I think I should just go into every Eminem album with super low expectations, just so that I have a slight possibility of being pleasantly surprised. I haven’t seen a lot of discussion around this album personally. The only thing that people really mention whenever talking about this album is that he raps in a bunch of different accents. I don’t know how I’m gonna feel about that. On paper it doesn’t seem like something that would annoy me, but then again his accent on Ass Like That was fucking terrible. I don’t know. I will say that just looking at the album sitting in my library, I am already very displeased. The official album cover is ugly as shit, and this album is almost EIGHTY FUCKING MINUTES. Jesus. This is gonna be a long night…

So, I’ve decided that I’m just gonna use the “tardy album review” format for shit like this, but I’m still gonna go through the whole project in the proper order of the track listing. Anyway, this album is not good. It’s bad. It’s really bad. In fact, I think this is only marginally better than Encore. This thing was a real struggle to get through. It starts off with the Dr. West intro, which is just a really cheesy & dramatic skit. It gave me flashbacks to Tech N9ne’s K.O.D. for some reason. Honestly, as cheesy as the presentation of the skit is, I think the story is kinda cool. Em’s basically having a dream in which Slim Shady is disguised as his rehab doctor, and is trying to get him to do drugs again. At the very least it’s kind of a cool concept for the skit. The following track is called 3 AM.

This song is a bad omen for what the rest of the project is like. He pretty much just goes full Horrorcore. I really don’t like the way Em’s voice sounds on this track. He sounds annoying as shit. That kinda ended up being an issue that persisted throughout the whole project unfortunately. I think the first verse is very impressive from a technical standpoint, but the content isn’t enjoyable for me.

Here I sit, while I’m caught up in deep thought again
Contemplating my next plot again
Swallowin’ a Klonopin while I’m noddin’ in and out on the ottoman
At the Ramada Inn holding onto the pill bottle, then
Lick my finger and swirl it ’round the bottom
And make sure I got all of it

The production on this track from Dr. Dre is pretty weak, and the hook kinda sucks too. The way he rhymes in the second verse is super impressive, but the actual content of the lyrics is just not appealing to me at all, and his delivery is terrible. I think the third verse is a little better though. Just by listening to this one song, I got the impression that this album was very influential to Tyler the Creator‘s early work. It reminds me a lot of Fish. Anyway, I like how technical the rhyming on the song is, but it’s just really bad to me sonically. That shit is wack. The following track is called My Mom, and I actually think it’s a big improvement over the preceding song. The production is much better in my opinion, and I surprisingly didn’t mind the sung hook too much. The first verse is okay I guess. The song is basically just Eminem blaming his mom for his addiction to Valium.

Valium was in everything, food that I ate
The water that I drank, fuckin’ peas in my plate
She sprinkled just enough of it to season my steak
So every day I’d have at least three stomachaches

The second verse was okay. One thing that I realized while listening to this song is that I just do not care at all. I don’t give a shit about anything Em rapped about in this song, or anything he raps about in general for the most part. Anyway, I don’t think this is that bad of a song, but at the same time, nothing about it is particularly enjoyable for me. The bridge sucks though. I almost forgot to mention that. The bridge is really bad. The song is just mediocre to me overall though. It’s followed by Insane, which is actually not too bad to me. Once again, I think Dr. Dre’s production is really dull here. The first verse is kinda terrible. The entire thing is about Em being molested by his stepfather. The verse ends with lines about said stepfather committing necrophilia with the corpse of Eminem as a child. I don’t… I don’t really know what to say about that. It’s not something I enjoy listening to. I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain why. Anyway, I think the hook on this song is fine, and I actually like the second verse; the lyrics aren’t super impressive or anything, but they’re okay, and his flow is really dope too. I also liked his flow on the final verse, but didn’t care for the lyrics at all. I think this is the most tolerable song on the album up to this point, but it’s still not something I’d willingly listen to again. It’s another mediocre track. The next song is called Bagpipes from Baghdad, and this is the first track on the album that I’d say is complete garbage. Why the fuck did he makes this song? It’s basically just him being a nerdy loser who’s mad that Mariah Carey is with Nick Cannon and not him.

I ain’t playin’ no fuckin’ more
Nick Cannon, you prick, I wish you luck with the fuckin’ whore
Every minute there’s a sucker born, snuck up on Malachai
Made the motherfucker suck on a shuck of corn

Dr. Dre’s production sucks ass, and all of the verses are wack, especially the final one. The hook is okay I guess, but the autotuned outro is fucking unbearable. The song is wack af. It’s followed by Hello, which is one of the only songs on the album that I actually like. I think the production is actually pretty fresh, and the first verse is pretty dope too. The song is basically My Name Is, Pt. 2. The lyrics in the hook are unfortunately pretty wack, but not bad enough to ruin the song. I think the second verse is pretty cool, and the final verse is nice too. The only aspect of the song that I don’t really like is the initial variation of the hook, but overall this is pretty dope. The next track is an interlude called Tonya. This is another dramatic Horror skit in which Eminem kidnaps a hitchhiker. It really sounds like the kinda shit that incels would listen to. It’s followed by Same Song & Dance, which is basically just the preceding skit in the form of a song. Once again, Dre’s production is pretty dull to me, and the first verse is boring as hell. The hook is wack too. The second verse is about kidnapping and murdering Lindsey Lohan. Why the fuck is he rapping about this? I feel like Arsonal did when he asked Cassidy “what the fuck is you rappin’ about, bruh?” The final verse is about him having a crush on Britney Spears and murdering her. See, this is just not entertaining at all to me. I have zero interest in this lyrical content. At least the actual verses aren’t as nonsensical as the shit on Encore. This is still pretty wack though. The next song is the single, We Made You.

All I have written in my notes for this song is the word “why.” I think the uncredited hook from Charmagne Tripp is pretty decent. However, the actual rapping on this song is terrible. It gave me flashbacks to Encore. The production is decent, although it kinda reminds me of Idlewild for some reason. Em’s flow is solid I guess, but aside from that his performance is completely unenjoyable for me. The rapping’s completely irrelevant and nonsensical. His voice is still annoying as shit too. The song is wack as fuck. The next track is called Medicine Ball, and it’s my least favorite song on the whole album. At this point, I started to become confused because I hadn’t heard Em rap in any weird accents. One of the major complaints I always see about this album is that Em raps in random accents, but… He doesn’t… I did not hear him rap in a single weird accent on this entire project. I think he says a few lines in a weird accent in the background of one song, but he never raps with it. I’m not sure what that complaint was all about. Maybe I’m misremembering though. Anyway, the production from Dr. Dre here is super mid, and the first verse is trash. This is like when a 10 year old kid just tries to think of all the most vulgar and disgusting bullshit he can, but here it just so happens to rhyme.

All my Westside bitches throw it up
Put a balloon inside your pussy, queef, and blow it up
Man, I think that he just fell off the deep end, sure enough
So you better change the station to keep from throwing up

What is it about this song that I’m supposed to be enjoying? I mean, he’s rhyming and flowing properly, but is the actual content of what he’s saying interesting or enjoyable? Absolutely not. This really isn’t that different from Encore; the only difference here is that Eminem was actually trying and the content is darker. He’s trying to be as offensive as possible here I guess. The final verse is just him making fun of Christopher Reeves for being a quadriplegic.

Now everybody’s pissed at me
Like it’s my fault his name rhymes with so many different words, jeez

This couplet highlights my number one issue with Eminem. Just because something rhymes doesn’t mean it’s good or is worth saying. It’s not even that I’m offended on Christopher Reeves’ behalf; this just isn’t fun to listen to because I don’t give a fuck about Christopher Reeves. This song is fucking dogshit. The next track is called Paul. When I got to this one, I really couldn’t believe that I’d only made it through half the album. Anyway, it’s a pointless skit in which Paul calls Em and leaves a voicemail in which he basically just says “you’re a madman, Em.” The following song is called Stay Wide Awake. It’s bad. I think the production is actually decent, but the sung hook on this track is terrible, and the first verse is not good.

Sit down beside her like a spider, hi there girl, you mighta
Heard of me before, see whore, you’re the kind of girl that I’d a–
-ssault and rape, then figure why not try to make your pussy wider
Fuck you with an umbrella then open it up while the shit’s inside ya

The rhymes are well written I guess, but this just isn’t fun to listen to. Em’s voice is grating as hell, and the content isn’t interesting at all. This is just not enjoyable. I think I definitely like this more than Medicine Ball, but that’s obviously not saying much. I can’t get over how bad the hook is. Honestly, the second & third verses are amazing from a technical standpoint, but that doesn’t make them fun to listen to. Also, why the fuck is this song so long? This is really difficult to sit through. I think it’s wack af. It’s followed by Old Time’s Sake. Dre’s production is mediocre here, and the first verse from him is pretty lame. However, the following verse from Em is even worse. You can tell he wrote Dre’s bars. His verse is pretty much just him saying “I’m Dr. Dre.” Em’s second verse is terrible.

There he goes in his trench coat, no clothes again
Baby, make us some french toast and show us some skin
I’ll show you every inch grows on my foreskin
Show me nipple, I pinch both, and throw up a ten

I really regret starting this Eminem marathon, man. This is the most painful music-related decision I’ve made since starting the Tech N9ne marathon. Dr. Dre is definitely the best part of this song. His last verse is pretty dope even if the content isn’t particularly interesting; he’s just rapping about smoking weed, but it was a much needed break from the murder and rape bars from Em. The song is pretty bad, but it’s far from the worst material on this album. It’s still wack though. The next song is called Must Be the Ganja. The first verse actually has some lines that are kinda cool to me.

Time to show you the most kick-ass flow in the cosmos
Picasso with a pick-axe, a sick asshole
Tic-tac-toe ‘cross your six-pack with X-Acto

This track is presented as a drug song, but it’s pretty much just another violent Horrorcore track. I guess he’s trying to say that the marijuana is causing him to do this fucked up shit, but that’s not realistic at all unless his shit is laced with dust. I don’t care for the sung hook at all. I just don’t get why he’s rapping about serial killers; the actual verses on this song have nothing to do with marijuana. I don’t think the verses are bad because this has some of the best lyricism on the album in my opinion. It’s still just Horrorcore, but it’s a lot more entertaining than the rape and necrophilia stuff. I like Horrorcore when people like Necro do it; he’s violent, but it’s easier to take seriously when he’s just talking about killing you instead of making it weird and sexual. He raps about murdering you, but he doesn’t seem like he’s trying to be super offensive and immature. The final verse on this track is genuinely dope to me.

Maybe you need some lyric syrup serum for your symptoms
Here’s a dosage of the antidote, now you give him some
He can give her some, she can give them some
Get behind a LinnDrum, make up a beat and cure the sucker syndrome

This is definitely one of the most tolerable songs on the album in my opinion, but I don’t see myself returning to it. It’s a decent track, but it lacks replay value for me personally. Mr. Mathers is a skit in which two medics try to resuscitate Eminem after an overdose. It’s actually pretty dramatic, and I think the acting is good. The album starts getting a lot more tolerable at this point. The content on Déjà Vu is more serious, and he’s rapping about his struggles with addiction. The sung hook is really bad unfortunately, but the first verse is great, and the second verse is pretty good too. The hook is so bad, but it’s not quite terrible enough to ruin the whole track for me. The final verse was pretty fantastic as well. This is easily one of the best songs on the album. Why wasn’t the whole album like this? This shit is dope. It’s probably my favorite track to be honest. The only real competition that it has is Hello because I don’t like any of the other songs. Anyway, it’s followed by Beautiful, which seems to be most people’s favorite song from the album, but I’m never gonna listen to it again. I like the rapping, and I appreciate the more personal & introspective content. However, I don’t care for the production at all, and that sung hook is hard to stomach. Honestly, the most enjoyment I got due to this song came from all the Em stans losing their minds over it in the genius comment section. That shit is hilarious.

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Again, I definitely like the content and what he was trying to do. The whole theme of trading shoes was mad corny to me though in all honesty. I appreciate the message of the song, even though it’s pretty generic. “Be yourself” isn’t exactly original advice. The song is decent overall, although it probably didn’t need to be over six and a half minutes long. It’s followed by the lead single, Crack a Bottle. I remember hearing this hook in the past, but I don’t know if I’ve ever listened to the full song. I guess the hook’s alright. It just sounds like something I’d hear at an NFL game. I’m not crazy about the first verse from Em. I’m not really interested in hearing him tell people to lick cheese from his balls. Dre’s verse is alright I guess. I suppose it was about as good as one could expect, especially when it was clearly written by Em. 50 Cent’s verse was trash. The song is pretty mediocre to me overall. I guess the hook is kinda catchy, but this isn’t my kinda thing at all. Honestly, this is white as fuck. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I can’t fuck with it. The penultimate track is yet another Steve Berman skit. Honestly, I usually like these ones. I find them pretty entertaining. I won’t say that the acting is “good,” but it’s better than I’d expect. I have no reason to return to the track, but it was enjoyable on the first listen. The closing song is called Underground, and it’s terrible. Man… What in the fuck is that hook? It’s so fucking bad, man. The first verse is kinda trash honestly; his flow and rhymes are nice, but the lyrics are pretty much just homophobia and violence. One thing that I’ll say is that the production on this track is really nice. It sounds terrible during the hook, but it’s great while Em’s rapping, and it sounds very cinematic. A lot of Em’s lyrics remind me of Cassidy’s latest battle with Arsonal; he’s just saying random bullshit that just so happens to rhyme really well. I’m fucking done with this project, man. This shit is wack as hell. The closing skit with Ken Kaniff was annoying too. Fuck this album.

This shit is bad. I don’t know what people are talking about in regards to Eminem rapping with an accent because he doesn’t do that here. It’s still really fucking bad though. Again, I don’t think this is that much better than Encore. On paper, this album probably could’ve been dope. Some of the skits just make me feel disappointed because I think this whole relapse & overdose theme could’ve been cool if he made it into a concept album. He could’ve taken it seriously and gotten introspective about his struggles with addiction, but instead he made an immature Horrorcore record. This is all technical skill and zero musicality. The production is weak, the content is repulsive, and Em’s voice is annoying as fuck. This was a major chore to get through, and I’m dreading the remainder of Em’s discography.

Favorite Song: Déjà Vu
Least Favorite Song: Medicine Ball


D Minus
Grade: D-


  1. Dude, he’s using his Slim Shady alter persona to mask his real struggles with drugs – the whole thing is a double entendre, where he’s likening his addiction to drugs to his attachment with his Slim Shady alter ego. That’s why most of the songs on it are full blown horrorcore (which I personally actually like btw). The first half is Slim Shady taking over, thereby Em fully indulging in most of the typical Slim Shady stuff of rape, murder and dissing celebs, with a few flashbacks to Ems real past that relate to his drug addiction, like My Mom.
    Besides, its easy to be highly on the nose about the drug addiction and OD for a whole entire album, but it would be unwise at that time, cos that guy had a hiatus for 5 years, and been off the radar for 3 of those years. By that point, his relevance was starting to wane. So he needed to be more creative and less consistently obvious with his struggles with drugs AND make a surefire comeback LP that would turn peoples heads and make em bop once more.
    Also, not to be rude, I can tell you’ve only listened to this like ONCE only, cos wtf, the production DULL?! That’s just my opinion, but the beat on Insane went fucking hard, the beats on Same Song and Dance and Stay Wide Awake were dark as fuck (and on the subject of Same Song And Dance, you got to admit, even with the content, at least his lyricism is superb enough to go “Holy shit, Im fucking afraid”, again mine and the Rap Critics opinion) and even the beat on Beautiful was, well, beautiful.

  2. I feel like this is an overly harsh review of the album. You don’t sound like someone who should be listening to Eminem’s music. If his lyricism doesn’t impress you, why are you even here? Listen to NF, that’s an artist who’s lyrical but also has depth. That’s not Eminem’s specialty.
    Btw, I haven’t actually listened to the album but just because of this review, I’ll go find it promptly just so I can know for myself if the album is as bad as you’re making it out to be(which I don’t think is possible).

  3. Thank you for this great post! I really enjoyed reading it! I have recently published an article on my blog reviewing this week in music with a feature article. If you have time, it would be great if you could check out my article and let me know your thoughts! Thanks 🙂

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