Album Review : Eminem - Revival (2017)
Order REVIVAL here (or don't)
There is a YouTube series I really like called Regretting the Past, made by a young Florida-based rock critic named Luke Spencer, which features old albums everybody bought but nobody liked. It's always a powerful reminder of how the music industry used to create and control our desires and that its collapse might not be a bad thing after all. Albums like Eminem's Revival would've been featured on Regretting the Past, had it been released 15 years earlier. But it's not and it could never have been. Revival is a product of its time and we'll allowed to say that it fucking sucks.
I take no pleasure in slamming this album. I'm a long-time Eminem fan and when Revival was announced, I originally planned to love the shit out of it. I own several of his records in various format, including The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP and Recovery and they are still meaningful to me in 2017. Revival has nothing to do with these masterpieces, though. It's a lurid, overproduced piece of shit meant to be a halfhearted attempt at protesting the Trump administration and an halhearted attempt at cashing in on random collaboration with whoever-sells-at-the-moment and the result is a complete mess.
There's a collaboration with Ed Sheeran on this record. ED FUCKING SHEERAN. THE READ HEADED LOVERBOY OF ATLANTIC RECORDS. I mean, is there a grosser way of selling out?
Walk on Water is supposed to be one of the selling point of the album, where Eminem declares his vulnerability and his mortality as a pop culture icon, set to a beautiful (and a little bland) chorus and by Beyoncé. OK, great? Except that point's been made in The Way I Am in a much more convincing way, seventeen freakin' years ago. It's like Eminem has become an entirely new person who's much less interesting. A softer, middle-aged version of himself that harvests his old songs for inspiration. What the hell is that about? There a couple songs that plunder the past like this: River and Bad Husband trumpet his infidelities while Eminem claims he's still a good person. We've heard it all before, but at least he didn't apologize for it then.
The protest stuff is also terrible. Revival suffers from the same problem Marilyn Manson's Heaven Upside Down did: it tries to hard to say something meaningful about the state of U.S politics since Donald Trump's election. Untouchable is his big anthem against racial inequity, which is very defentable in theory, but it's so unlike him to do such things. He's always been a lead-by-example type of celebrity. Bars like: Black boy, black boy, we don't get your culture and / We don't care what our government's done to fuck you over, man are so contrived and devoid of any wit, it's like Eminem felt forced to write them, given the political climate.
Do I even get started with the overbearing, borderline clownish samples? Nah, I'll let you listen for yourselves.
Haha! I'm sorry.
So, what else is there about this album that's completely fucking unbearable? Did I mention the collaborations? There's a song with P!nk called Need Me, where Eminem starts rapping around the three minutes mark. I love P!nk and think she's an underrated singer, but that piece has nothing to do on Revival and it wouldn't even be a standout song on P!nk's latest. My favorite song on the entire record is Chrolaseptic, a collaboration with Phresher that doesn't make much sense, but throws back to the D12 days with the slower, dirtier, pulsating beat. It's good. Framed would be my favorite and the Slim Shadiest song on the record if it didn't have that lazy, phoned-in hook that undermines the impish delivery.
I probably don't have any original takes on Revival, but it's a hollow, uninspired, self-important and PRO-FOUND-LY unoriginal album that isn't worth you love or your time. Eminem should've kept this one in his drawers and Revival should've have been released until 20 years after his death on a 120 songs box set, because he's a fucking parody of himself on that record. I love Eminem and I've been behind him for close to twenty years now, but we're in 2017 and there's no reason to swallow a turd of a record like this one. Any self-respecting artist should be ashamed to release such a hodgepodge mix of uninspired protest song (when he's never really been a protester) and bullshit sellout moves. Revival is terrible, I'm sure you knew that before reading this piece, but I hope I helped you understand how terrible it is in so many ways.