Eminem at his best on ‘Recovery’

It’s been exactly 10 years since rapper Eminem released “The Marshall Mathers LP,” an album most would consider his best work to date. The 10 years between then and now led “Slim Shady” down a dark path, in and out of dysfunctional relationships and drug use, sending the quality of his material into a downward spiral. However, it looks like the shock rapper may have grabbed the throttle and pulled his career out of a stall just before it crashed and burned, and, in fact, may be taking his fans for the best ride yet.

His latest album, “Recovery” refers to his newfound sobriety, although it would seem the title has a duel meaning. His health isn’t the only thing that’s recovered with his forthcoming title, but he’s also reclaiming his throne at the top of hip-hop.

What makes “Recovery” special is Eminem’s new approach — leaving behind the excessive shock value, and more importantly, the annoying accents. Every single one of the 17 songs on “Recovery” sounds well thought-out, and Eminem’s delivery is the best it’s been in years.

“Recovery” is refreshing because of its honesty and its humility. Eminem admits multiple times that he let fans down with his previous releases, one time in which he says, “Hit my bottom so hard I bounced twice. Suffice this time around it’s different, them last two albums didn’t count — ’Encore’ I was on drugs, ‘Relapse’ I was flushing ‘em out. I’ve got something to prove to fans, I feel like I let ‘em down. So please accept my apology. I finally feel like I’m back to normal.”

He refers to his self-proclaimed rock bottom on multiple tracks, but the honesty extends outside of that idea. In “Talkin’ 2 Myself” he also discusses how he once considered going after Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West simply because he was jealous.

It’s Eminem’s exchanging of arrogant attacks for honesty that allows him to open up and tap unexplored material, paradoxically returning him to the top of hip-hop with this effort.

His return to impeccable delivery shouldn’t be as much of a surprise, as he stole the spotlight in various appearances he’s made on other artists’ songs such as Drake’s “Forever” and Lil’ Wayne’s “Drop the World.”

Additionally, Eminem’s incorporation of various guest artists and an array of samples make for his best refrains to date. In the past, many of his choruses were simply half-hearted singing attempts by Mathers himself, used solely to connect one verse to the next. On “Recovery,” he samples artists like Ozzy Osborne, and allows for guest appearances from the likes of Lil’ Wayne and Rihanna.

The album’s highlight comes on the song “No Love” featuring Lil’ Wayne, and samples Haddaway’s “What is Love” of “A Night at the Roxbury” fame. The track finds the two artists contemplating their place in life and hip-hop culture.

This theme is extended into the song “25 to Life,” as Eminem raps for the entire song about a damaged relationship and threatens divorce, only to reveal at the end, the relationship to which he was referring was with rap itself. The final verse of the song is Eminem’s best verse since his appearance on 50 Cent’s “Patiently Waiting.”

It’s often a bold and exaggerated claim to state than an album is an artist’s best work, but denying “Recovery” of such a status would be irresponsible. Never before has Eminem made himself so vulnerable, just as he has never before seamlessly streamed together line after line while attacking fresh issues. “Recovery” will not only win back fans that had been pushed away by his less-than-stellar releases of late, but will also bring in new ones.

Recovery is slated to be in stores on June 22.