Eminem, "Recovery"

79 Billboard Rating

Throughout "Recovery," the rapper's first album since overcoming an addiction to pharmaceuticals, Eminem is unsparing in assessing the weakness of character that led to his descent into drugs. But the strong-selling rapper is even more severe in assessing the weakness of the work he made during that addiction: "Them last two albums didn't count/'Encore' I was on drugs, 'Relapse' I was flushing them out," he insists on the track "Talkin' 2 Myself," where he also admits that he considered taking shots at Lil Wayne and Kanye West. ("Thank God that I didn't do it," he raps with audible relief. "I'd have had my ass handed to me, and I knew it.") Eminem certainly sounds recharged on "Recovery," delivering nearly every verse with the kind of breathless, amped-up energy that defined early hits like "Lose Yourself." But it's an oddly morose comeback album, as suffused with regret ("Going Through Changes," based on a sample of Black Sabbath's "Changes") as with triumph ("Won't Back Down," featuring Pink). Leave it to Em to continue confounding expectations this late in the game.

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