Eminem has long been a favorite of critics, but with his cleaned-up act and new collaborators in his corner, including Rihanna and Pink, do they still find the controversial rapper compelling? Find out how critics are responding to Eminem’s seventh studio album Recovery.
USA Today: If Eminem seemed to be losing his footing in recent years, he regains it here with his fiercest and most focused work in a long time. Recovery is a great bounce-back for a rapper who admittedly spent years mired in drug abuse, depression and grief. It’s a strong return to the form that made him a star in the first place. 3.5 out of 4
Entertainment Weekly: For the second album in a row, Eminem returns to the verbal acrobatics that defined his early work, showering these 17 songs with dazzling cadences and multisyllabic rhymes. Lil Wayne, the album’s sole rap guest, spits more fiercely than he has in a year and still barely keeps up. B+
Rolling Stone: What has he figured out? Among other things, how to relax a little. Em will always be tightly wound—Lil Wayne he’s not—but Recovery is his most casual-sounding album in years, with odes to a “white-trash party” (“W.T.P.”) and songs that hearken back to his freewheeling early records—rhymes as goofy and imaginative as they are violent and profane. 4 out of 5
Los Angeles Times: Cameos from Pink (“Won’t Back Down”) and Rihanna (“Love the Way You Lie”) further exacerbate the disconnect from the qualities that made Eminem a star: wariness of cultural cliché, knack for storytelling and conflict, and a caustic wit. 3.5 out of 5
Boston Herald: Bad habits creep in on the lazy “So Bad” and screeching “Won’t Back Down” with Pink, but even if Em never returns to his combustible, unpredictable peak of a decade ago, Recovery is a welcome sign that his darkest days are behind him. B+
The Detroit News: Where Relapse painted Em into a corner and relied heavily on shock tactics, Recovery presents an unexpectedly clean slate for the rapper. It’s at times ugly and difficult to wade through, but he comes out better on the other end.
Houston Chronicle: Recovery, Eminem’s seventh studio album, is a relentless, exhausting listen. The disc’s 17 tracks are dark and dense, both lyrically and musically. It’s also his most urgent, affecting album in years. 3.5 out of 4
The Washington Post: His latest album, Recovery, initially billed as a sequel to Relapse, is meant to be a corrective, with emotional purges and a whirring recommitment to the vision of Eminem, Superstar and Rap Genius. But transparency isn’t art, nor will it make Eminem 25 again. Instead, Recovery is a morose picture of an artist grappling, and often losing his grip.
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Talkin’ 2 Myself,” “Not Afraid,” “No Love,” “Love the Way You Lie”