Today's throwback review see's Eminem season continue with his 2017 album, 'Revival'. Critically this is Em's most panned album - many saying he should've retired after this, but he intended this album to be his return to form - but despite what critics think was this album overhated or was it deservedly targeted?
The production on here isn't the highlight of his career, but it's not exactly bad despite some beats I'm not the biggest fan of, such as the first beat on 'Untouchable' which has this awful rock beat at first until we get a more calm second beat which was nice. Em talks about racial injustices in America and police brutality here, from the perspective of a white policeman and black man and spits facts all through the track with nice wordplay and metaphors, "And streets act as a narrator, don't gotta read comics // Or be that into characters, just to see that, just to be black // You better be strapped with a derringer // Or be “capped in America” like Steve Rogers". I love the content, I love the lyrics, the second half is good - but the first half has horrible singing and a cringe sample - the idea is there, but the execution just isn't. There's also a lot of good instrumentals on here, such as on 'Remind Me' which samples 'I Love Rock 'N Roll' by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts with these great guitar riffs as he talks on a girl he likes because she is as crude and gross as he is. Lyrically, it's funny at times but also has some really corny lines again, "I'm lookin' at your tight rear like a sightseer // Your booty is heavy duty like diarrhea", and I actually like this - it's a fun, catchy song - not one of his best ever but it's enjoyable. 'Framed' has this zany and psychotic beat to reflect to topic of the song - murdering and raping different females - but he's caught as his lyrics match the crime scene. The lyrics are very detailed, vivid and the storytelling good and the hook is very weird but I like it. The flows crazy, there's 'Relapse' nostalgia vibe here and it's a great song. Overall, the majority of the beats here are decent but nothing exactly more, they're very poppy as well at times but they sound decent - would've preferred better production however.
Lyrically this is the lowest we've seen Em's lyrical abilities, but we'll start with the positives - which is the raw and hard hitting lyrics from Em, such as on 'Arose', "That image burned in my brain of you on that table // Me falling across your body, not able to stand to save you // God, why did you take him?", which is a track all about Eminem's thoughts and feelings at the time of his overdose as he's rushed to hospital and on the cusp of death - he regrets what he's done, what he hasn't done and how it has been done. It's one of the most emotional tracks ever, it links with 'Castle' as post-reviving from his near fatal overdose, he rewrites time and changes the third verse of 'Castle' to instead of overdosing, releasing a few great albums and retiring with a victory. This here, is an amazing song. Em's wordplay and punchlines though aren't as slick and clever as they previously were - they're just horribly corny but not the kind that makes you laugh but rather wince, such as "And guess who just happens to be movin' on to the next // Actually, just shit on my last chick and she has what my ex lacks", on 'River', which is about a man who cheats on his girl, so she hooks up with Eminem for revenge, falls pregnant as as Em decides he doesn't want a relationship with this girl - she gets an abortion and Em spends the whole song feeling guilt for the way he's gone about it. Ed Sheeran's hook is catchy, I don't love it but it isn't bad and the erratic, guitar based beat is good. I think Em's delivery is spot on, it's a decent song with some mainstream appeal but it's just corny at times - another one I get some enjoyment from but don't exactly think is great. 'Heat' is another track which has an example of corny lines, "From the first time I saw you, I actually // Said to myself: "I gotta meet her" like a taxi", "Said my dick is an apple, she said put it inside her", this is arguably Em's worst ever performance and the cheap rock beat isn't exactly what I want Em rapping over. The whole track is about trying to have sex with this girl, and it's awfully mixed and just not a very good song. Overall his technical ability is still great - just not elite like every other Eminem album. His flow also isn't as good as it once was, it's still great but just not an all time great flow like he once had in his career, although his aggressive delivery is still here and at times it's as raw as it was at the beginning of his career - which is a positive in his technical aspect.
We all wanted more rappers to feature - we only got one and all he did was a hook, which was PHresher on 'Chloraseptic', and his hook was pretty decent over this heavy synth bass and trap beat with twinkling bells which sounds fire. Em spends the track attacking the new generation of rap with some cool moments of wordplay, but there's no need to attack the new generation as well as having some lines which make no sense, "I put an end to your life, sex crime Kidding aside, insidious vibe // Girl, you know you got the prettiest eyes // But all you're getting is bribed – where does it come from". It's a mixed track - the flow is good and the beat, but the content doesn't really interest me and at times his delivery changes are quite offputting - it definitely is a listenable track with some enjoyment but I don't particularly love it. For what we did get, which was mostly pop stars, I think they supply some nice and catchy hooks - which isn't what Em's music is about but I'm a sucker for a catchy pop hook and there's some good ones here, such as Kehlani's on 'Nowhere Fast', a track about Em being at the top of the rap game still as he reflects on his career, as he also focuses on the wrong in the world at the minute over this orchestral, violin type beat which really creates that powerful atmosphere. Em has some nice wordplay and thoughtful lines, and it's a really good song (bar Em's singing in the bridge). This is a hot take, but I really enjoy P!nk's vocals and emotional performance on 'Need Me', which is a track about a toxic relationship full of lies - but both need each other so they can't end it. There's a corny punchline or two from Em, and he also has some pretty vivid and hard hitting lines, "'Cause I literally feel like you could die if ever should I // Leave you for good and never would I // It'd be all bad, never understood why they call it goodbye", over these loud crashing drums and melancholy atmosphere. It feels more like a P!nk song than an Eminem song, but Em's flow and passionate delivery it bought all together and it doesn't come off cheesy - it's a great track.
This album does have some of Em's best content here, as the main theme is Em's inner thoughts battling between past regret, still being the best and the fear of falling off, shown straight from the get go on 'Walk on Water', as Em claims he's not a God and has flaws and insecurities like any human. Beyoncé's vocals are incredible on the hook and it sounds great as Em provides raw, heartfelt lyrics with vivid metaphors, "'Cause how do I ever let this mic go without a fight // When I made a fuckin' tightrope outta twine? // But when I do fall from these heights though, I'll be fine // I won't pout or cry or spiral down or whine // But I'll decide if it's my final bow this time around, 'cause—", over this really sorry, emotional piano beat with orchestral elements. It's a really good, honest and introspective start to the album - it's emotional and you can really hear the hurt in his delivery and disjointed flow. There's also a lot more of a political focus, as Em denounces Donald Trump a lot on here and talks about America's problems, showcased on 'Like Home' as he does this with some corny lines which are littered all over this album as well as some powerful and inspiring ones too, "But there's always tomorrow still // If we start from scratch like a scab, get the scars to heal // And band together for Charlottesville // And for Heather, fallen heroes, fill this wall with murals // Nevada get up, hit the damn resetter // Let's start from zero, this is our renewal // Spray tan, get rid of, get a brand new, better // America, and here's to where it all". Alicia Keys provides some really good vocals on this anthem like hook which is so energetic and catchy over this explosive, piano based beat which is good. Again, bar a few corny lines it's a really uplifting, solid track against Donald Trump as Em puts his thoughts out there and Alicia Keys really adds to it - I'm surprised people don't like this song. Of course, there's also some playful, fun songs with silly subject matter, such as 'Offended' as Em talks on his controversial career and takes shots at Donald Trump in a playful matter. There's a few corny lines but this is packed with great wordplay, metaphors and punchlines and is a very heavily layered track over this bouncy, unique beat. The hook is horrible here sadly, but the verses are fire with quick, technical flows, bars throughout and a supersonic section at the end. It's a good song, the hook being bad is a shame and the mixing is again off but it's a good song nevertheless. Content wise, it's some of Em's best on the surface - I don't think it's as thematically strong, deep or conscious as he would've liked but it's still very good.
Other tracks to look at include 'Believe', which is about Em starting to believing in himself as he asks the fans to do the same over this piano based, lowkey trap beat before we get the big dramatic production change for the equally dramatic but eventful hook. There are some corny lines but also some layered wordplay and clever lyrics, "And I'ma get you jacked up like you're tryna fix a flat, uh // When you struggle with despair" (tire wordplay, despair = the spare, fixing a flat etc.), as it's a great song - although flawed as the mixing is a bit off, it's very subtle but you can hear it more in the 3rd verse as his voice goes from louder to quieter between lines. 'Bad Husband' is an apology song to Kim as Em gets really emotional, honest and introspective over this decent beat which captures the mood very well, "We brought out the worst in each other // Someone had to make the sparring end // 'Cause I loved you, but I hated that me // And I don't wanna see that side again // But I'm sorry, Kim // More than you could ever comprehend // Leavin' you was fuckin' harder than // Sawing off a fuckin' body limb". It's a very passionate display from Em, an honest track and a key highlight on here. X Ambassadors hook is pretty surface level here but it serves its purpose. 'Tragic Endings' see's Skylar Grey kill the hook with an amazing vocal range over these slow drums and quick paced strings, and while there's nothing special to the beat I like it. The track talks on a relationship where the girl has ruined Em's self esteem - but he still needs her to function. Em's flow and delivery are very 'Recovery' esque, and his verses sound nice despite some uninteresting content - it's a decent track but not one to come back to.
'In Your Head' see's Em talk on the regrets of his career including his Slim Shady persona, his controversies and talking about Hailie so much. His lyrics are hard hitting and honest over this heavy rock beat which samples 'Zombies' by The Cranberries - a song I love and the sample here is good. His stuttery flow and passionate delivery makes this song stand out as much as it does and the second verse is arguably the best on the whole album as he puts himself in a very vulnerable stale. It's a very, very good song and can stand amongst some of Eminem's best. 'Castle' is a track where we get an insight into Em's life with his daughter, taking us from before she was born and Em was poor to the night of his overdose as he regrets everything he put in the public eye like his relationship with her mother Kim. The verses are written like letters, and are very honest, insightful and cute as he talks about the different situations. Liz Rogrigues' hook is really nice, and the metaphor, "I built this castle // Now we are trapped on the throne", is a very powerful one as well. Em's flow and delivery are perfect here, like the Old em and this heavy track is another that can stand amongst any other Eminem song.
To conclude, this album is good - definitely overhated but I can see why it's considered Em's worst. It definitely has some low points, but it equally has some high points and isn't like any Em of old as he's matured here - although I still prefer the previous albums. The production, lyrics and even features aren't the best from Em, as the interludes/skits are pointless here although 'Revival (Interlude)' had some great vocals by the late Alice and the Glass Lake. The content is great, the hooks not done by Eminem (cause they ain't usually good here) are nice, and the rapping is also even if it isn't at his best. The mixing is also poor at times but I enjoy this album - definitely a lot more than most.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Walk on Water, Believe, Like Home, Bad Husband, Framed, Nowhere Fast, Need Me, In Your Head, Castle, Arose
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Heat
OVERALL RATING: Light 7.5/10