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With the overwhelmingly negative response coming from the release of Eminem's latest full-length LP, "Revival," I began to see a fair amount of Eminem fans, or Eminems as I like to call them since "Stan" is a stale term to me now, defending the artist.
Is this album trash? Yes. No questions about it. It's lyrically poor, dated in sound, overly long, sugary, sounds like it was mixed in a toilet, and tries its hardest to please everyone. From the pretentious "political statements" that it makes, to the cringe-worthy lyrics that are bad not only by Eminem standards, but by rap standards, period, it's no surprise that this album came out the way it did. It's easily the worst of 2017.
But that's not what we're here to talk about now, is it? No. I'm here to point out some cold hard facts regarding the quality of Eminem's music over the past years.
Now, there's a few things that must be understood when it comes to listening to hip hop music. Firstly, before you go out claiming that Eminem is the Goat (Greatest Of All-Time, for the uninitiated,) please make sure you've heard enough hip hop to make the claim, and at the very least know who even invented the term in the first place. For many people growing up in the late 90s to the early 00s, Eminem was their first exposure to very extreme rap music in their most impressionable years. The shocking lyrics paired with the razor-sharp execution left an impact on listeners that is still looked upon fondly to this day with a never-fleeting sense of nostalgia.
Eminem deserves to be called a great, but is he in my top? Quite frankly, he'll be lucky if he cracks my Top 50. Yes, there is possibly 50 other rappers I would put ahead of this clown, and it's for this main reason:
EMINEM HAS NOT PUT OUT A GOOD RECORD IN OVER 15 YEARS!!!
You read that correctly. Eventually, there comes a point where you have to ask yourself, "How long have I been putting up with this?" It's clear that nostalgia is equally-blinding as it is blissful.
Upon revisiting Em's first 3 major releases, four if you include "Infinite," I came to the realization that he was never that great in the first place. He's a talented wordsmith, no doubt, but a lot of what made him famous in the first place is exactly what's holding him back in this day and age.
So I'm going to run down the list of bad albums he's made:
1. Encore (2004)
The beginning of the end. Easily considered his worst at the time of his release, even down to the singles. For whatever reason though, this one gets glossed over... but not by me. This album sucks chunky peanut butter through a coffee straw.
2. Relapse (2009)
After a long hiatus from rap, Marshall came back and blessed(?) the world with another record. Well-received at the time, it's quickly grown to become absolutely hated by even the most loyal Eminems. I've also seen a substantial amount of fans defend it as being lyrically one of the best of all time, which I will get to that in a minute, but for now, I'll say that the people who've said that don't know what they're talking about.
3. Recovery (2010)
This is where he started really going against the things he said he wouldn't do in the past, such as working with pop artists. Just when I believed Eminem couldn't get any softer or sugary, he drops this load of dump on us. While it is considerably more mature and sober in terms of lyricism, it's so poppy and glittery, you'll forget you were listening to someone who was controversial for his material. Now I won't hold the fact that he's changed his outlook on life against him, as people do change; but that does not excuse making music that's trying to please everyone.
4. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)
How the hell do you make a sequel to what is considered not only your best record, but one of the greatest of all-time, only to have it be this bad?! I have very little to say about this one. It's terrible. Only exception for me is "Rap God," but even that's not without its problems.
5. Shady XV (2014
Half of these are greatest hits, the other half is bottom of the barrel.
6. Revival (2017)
And here we are, back where the movie started.
That's 6 total albums of non-stop garbage. Now I rate my favorites based on several criteria, and while you'll be hard-pressed to find any rapper without a sub-par record in their discography, Eminem has been consistently delivering the worst work of his career. Of course, none of these albums are not without good qualities, but for the most part, they range from forgettable to downright awful. He does not the meet the criteria. His bad work outweighs his good, and his good work isn't that great in the first place.
For one, he's maintained his pop tendencies without expanding his sound palette. If artists like Jay-Z, Cam'ron, Run the Jewels, and countless others can come back in to the game sounding rejuvenated and perceptive, then Eminem is without excuse.
Now many will say that Eminem is lyrically untouchable, which is why they hold him in such high regard, but most who say that in all truthfulness haven't listened to enough lyrical hip hop in the first place to know that. Now if you've dived in to just how ridiculously complex lyrically-focused hip hop can be, then I couldn't really challenge your opinion.
On the contrary, if you've never explored artists like Kool G. Rap, Pharoahe Monch, Big Daddy Kane, Wu-Tang Clan, Boot Camp Clik, D.I.T.C., Big Pun, KRS-One, Mobb Deep, and Twista, your opinion is irrelevant. You not only prove that you're close-minded, but that you lack any understanding in what goes in to lyrical hip hop.
"The Eminem Show," while a great record, was Marshall's last solid album. The rest is a hot dumpster fire.
And many will have a hard time hearing their favorite rapper be given over to such harsh judgment, but the reality is that it isn't harsh at all. Eminems have been far too forgiving of Em's work throughout the years just because of his previous work, without actually having any substantial knowledge of hip hop.
Eminem has reached a point where he's released so many consistently terrible records that he can now be considered a bad artist, and the fact that he's constantly pandering to his fans is what's staining his legacy as one of the greats.
For those of you claiming Eminem is the greatest despite never listening to much rap outside of Eminem? Shut up.
For those claiming Eminem is the greatest despite being knowledgeable? Rethink your statement.