By Scott T. Sterling
Eminem has released his ninth studio album Revival.
At 45 year old, the once young and reckless rap god sounds like he’s having a bit of a 4:44 moment of his own: looking back, and taking stock of his past and present.
While he makes sure to play to a hardcore base hungry for more gross-out humor, larger-than-life boasts and intricate story-telling, this more mature Slim Shady takes time to atone for some past sins and trying to make amends for his younger self.
As a result, the album is a purposely mixed bag that covers a wide range over its 19 tracks. There’s a lot to take in here, to say the least. With A-list features including Ed Sheeran, P!nk and Beyoncé, Revival feels like a huge-tent show that will likely have a very long life over the course of its singles.
These are our five favorite songs on Eminem’s Revival.
Slim Shady is in classic form, using his platform as the biggest white rapper of all-time to take dead-eyed aim at white privilege over a sample of Cheech and Chong’s 1974 Up in Smoke jam, “Earache My Eye.” Em hits his signature roller-coaster cadence while addressing “crooked cops” and “Congress” throughout the brutal rap.
“Like Home” featuring Alicia Keys
This massive power ballad finds Eminem lining up Donald Trump in his lyrical cross-hairs, calling out the American president for “tryin’ to divide us” and not denouncing the Klu Klux Klan “cause they play golf with ya.” Alicia Keys provide the catchy hook in the chorus and presumably the huge piano melody that powers the song.
Eminem shows off his lyrical dexterity on this fiery track, shooting rapid-fire verses of tongue-twisting rhymes over a sparse horn sample and rumbling drums. Fans of hearing Em flex his muscles on the mic will likely gravitate to the hard-hitting track. This one is for the real rap heads.
“Need Me” featuring P!nk
Much in the way that Eminem made an instant connection working with Rihanna, the rapper seems to have found a similar rapport with P!nk. After appearing on her latest album, Beautiful Trauma, for the track “Revenge,” she returns the favor here. The booming ballad finds the two going toe to toe over a dysfunctional relationship in the middle of thunderous drums and a wall of guitars.
“In Your Head”
Eminem hijacks the Cranberries’ massive 1994 hit, “Zombie,” to reflect on regrets and past transgressions. “Maybe, I shoulda did a better job at separating/Shady and entertaining from real life/But this dang thing is still the hardest thing to explain,” he rages ominously on the track. “F— it, I’ve done enough in this rap s—/Recovery brought me nothin’ but back/To where I was and perhaps/This coulda been my victory lap if I wasn’t on the verge of Relapse.”