Written By: Jordan Smith
Originality: (4.0 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (4.0 / 5) Lyrics: (2.0 / 5) Production: (5.0 / 5) Average: (3.8 / 5)
Today, Eminem released his ninth studio album to somewhat warm reception. Over 19 tracks, he addresses Kim, Haley, Donald Trump, the state of rap music, and seemingly everything else that’s been on his mind for the last four years. The fact of the matter is that it’s decent at best. It has great songs, which served as not only bright spots for the album, but for his progression as his artist as well. It’s a shame really. If the album had been ten or so tracks long it could have potentially contended for album of the year. The production and features saved the album to a degree too, and the features were exclusively vocal contributions.
Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Skylar Grey, Kehlani and P!nk all made phenomenal contributions. With that in mind, the fact that Eminem didn’t recruit any G-Unit alumnus, past collaborators, current a-list MCs, or up-and-comers is bothersome. For all the throwaway songs that made the cut, I’m perplexed as to how many potential classics he skipped over in favor of releasing what sounded like parody rap on a couple songs. The apparent lack of a willingness to test his skills as an MC in favor of staying in a creative safe space was disappointing to say the least.
If you would have told me or nearly any other hip-hop fanatic that Eminem would drop a 19-track album without any features, I’m confident that would have tempered a lot of expectations. At this stage, it seems like a “Renegade pt. 2” with Jay Z won’t happen, and we’ll never hear him on a song with Kanye West who he at one point admittedly envied. On the 2013 release, Marshall Mathers LP 2, he did as much to feature Kendrick Lamar on a strange rap-rock mash up, so to expect at least one feature from a relevant rapper wouldn’t have been too much to ask for. For as much progress that was made creatively, it still leaves quite a lot to the imagination.
For context, there’s a lot of great music to be heard on Revival. Just not necessarily enough for the amount of music that was released. The bright spots were too far and few between, and the help he got by way of production and contributing vocals shoulders a disproportionate amount of the load. By neglecting to add any good hip-hop features, he fails to include any tracks on the album that show that he unequivocally, convincingly “still has it.” Those tracks that are proven to provide a reason for the casual listener to revisit the album again and again are missing. It’s a sad, avoidable mistake too. I can think of at least 10 rappers who would have made quality contributions on a track with Eminem that will seemingly not ever get that chance now. Revival suffers for it, and so do the fans.