A RAW AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SOUNDTRACK TACKLING HIS PERSONAL LIFE, HIS CAREER & THE POLITICAL UPHEAVAL IN THE USA
Eminem dropped Revival in December 2017, four years after his last album The Marshall Mathers LP 2. Over the last couple of decades, Eminem’s music has evolved into a profound narrative, spattered with entertaining tracks allowing the listener to really appreciate the complexity which is Marshall Mathers. This 19-track album is a psychological rollercoaster that gives us a front seat view through Eminem’s eyes.
Revival opens with ‘Walking on Water’ feat. Beyoncé which thrusts you straight into the cranium of Eminem – his thoughts both light and dark, and contemplative and honest. ‘Walking on Water’ conveys his feelings about being an idol on the pedestal of his fans. Its revealing narrative explores his battles with his ability and confidence in his material, his vulnerability within the industry, and the expectations with every line he writes. Back in November, Eminem performed this track on Saturday Night Live with Skylar Grey singing the part of Beyoncé, and I wish he had used Skylar for the album track as her emotional delivery balances his faultlessly.
The album explores the current American political landscape with a series of tracks hitting out at the police force and Donald Trump. Eminem’s playful Slim Shady persona makes an appearance, in all but name, in the fun but very serious ‘Untouchable’ track – a politically charged rant about racial segregation in America, specifically the issues surrounding white members of the police force and the black communities. It’s certainly an anthem of Black Lives Matter. This track is another demonstration of Eminem’s ability to give us an unforgettable tune whilst discoursing on a politically charged subject.
The present dogmatic state of America is a catalyst for Eminem’s frustration and sorrow. He has pride in his country, and yet he is heartbroken at where it is now. This is most notably broadcast in ‘Like Home’ feat. Alicia Keys, which responds to Trump and the division he is causing, as opposed to the home he was raised in – the real America. This is a very patriotic song..
DRUGS, SEX & BREAKDOWNS
The biggest surprise here was perhaps ‘River’, not the subject matter of domestic abuse and failed relationships – which is familiar in Eminem’s work – but the part of Ed Sheeran. I’m guessing a large portion of Eminem fans don’t listen to Ed Sheeran. The song itself is another autobiographical exploration, but I think it will be hard to accept Ed Sheeran’s place on the song. That’s not to discredit Sheeran’s standalone talent, more that the two don’t marry well.
Another duet on the album worth noting is with the ‘Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken’ singer, P!nk. ‘Need Me’ is certainly the complete reverse to P!nk’s track feat. Eminem, ‘Revenge,’ from her most recent album Beautiful Trauma, and yet the subject matter is also very similar: the distress of a relationship, the mixed messages, and the complexities and confusions of being in a relationship. As usual, P!nk delivers an incredibly moving performance, which is the undertone of ‘Need Me.’ She is equally an artist who wears her heart on her sleeve, and is very open with her opinions and life’s demons.
OLD SKOOL EMINEM & SAMPLES
As a reprise to the heavy emotional narrative of Revival, Eminem has given us some phenomenally catchy tracks, many of which sample some classic songs, such as ‘Remind Me’ which sounds like Eminem is channelling Slim Shady two decades later – it’s fun, it’s memorable and samples the rock hit ‘I love Rock n Roll’ by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. ‘Heat’ is a sexually fuelled track sampling the introduction to ‘Feel the Heat’ from Boogie Nights, and ‘In Your Head’ samples The Cranberries ‘Zombie’ track – which somehow feels more significant since the passing of their lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan back in January. It is also the track that marks the beginning of the end of Revival. The last two songs, ‘Castle’ and ‘Arose’ are perhaps the most confessional and heart-breaking tracks, which unveil his feelings about his career, his daughter, his depression, his addiction, his breakdown, his near-death experience, and ultimately his Revival. Combined with his trademark sound effects which bring another dimension to his music, the stark reality of his life is very much at the forefront of this album.
I’ve seen many different reviews of Revival, which has received a mixed response from the critics. However, whether you miss Slim Shady, or old skool Eminem, this album is clever and truthful, and can only really be commended.
Earlier this month, Eminem announced a two-date show in London. Tickets sold out fast (I should know, I managed to get a couple of tickets in the pre-sales which sold old almost immediately too). I hope to bring you a gig review in July.