We’ve all been anxiously (your brain presumed I would say ‘patiently’, didn’t it? ADMIT IT!) waiting for Em (yes, Em, we’re on slang-name terms) to release his next album, with it coming up to nearly three years since the release of Recovery. Wow, three years already!?

Eminem 2013

It’s also been two years since Eminem was in the public with a solo song. These kinds of time lapses are what rappers like Kanye define as a ‘hiatus’, but as a fan – I’m very glad that Em does it this way. as it leaves more space between solo projects, which are always defining works (for better or worse) in some way, and always give us a ‘new era’ of Eminem music to feast on for a couple of years.

Each album he does is like a mini new career within itself, so it’s only right that he make us wait, sweat, wonder, speculate, guess, anticipate and then re-invent his sound all over again and surprise us all.

WHICH, is exactly what he’s done to me as a fan since the beginning now. As he intends.

Let’s take a quick look at the timeline of Em’s solo work from debut to present day…

Eminem - Infinite Album #1Infinite (1996)

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Eminem debuted in 1996 with the album Infinite. Eminem’s style on the album was criticized by those who heard it, for being too similar to AZ and Nas, with people effectively labeling him as a ‘biter’ and the album being perceived as unoriginal. Personally, I feel this was a bit harsh and probably influenced by the fact that he was a new white MC, and new white MC’s generally (especially then) have to work harder to get initial respect.

There has been a plethora of black rappers that sound alike and I’ve seldom heard such blunt comparison; when you actually listen to Em on Infinite… whilst there is certainly influence from AZ and Nas, Em’s writing style was still very unique. If you’ve been aware of his evolution since then, you can go back and hear the ‘Em-isms’ in his lyrics and approach. Take for example the line “I used to give a fuck, now I give a fuck less”, which he actually re-used on The Marshall Mathers LP.

I think Em deserves more credit than he got for this body of work, as it contains some stellar lyricism and is pretty consistent throughout. If the album had proper production, it could have been a classic.

Regardless, the album was a complete flop, failing to shift any real units and sending Em into a deep depression, feeling helpless and lost; Eminem tried to commit suicide shortly after.

Eminem - Infinite Album #2The Slim Shady LP (1999)

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In response to the reaction to Infinite, Em got very annoyed, depressed and rebellious and came back with his now infamous ‘Slim Shady’ alter-ego which saw its first stylistic incarnation, on a full-album on The Slim Shady LP.

The Slim Shady LP was an international hit on the charts and received widespread critical acclaim.

There’s no doubt that a huge element in Eminem’s initial success was thanks to the public approval of Dr. Dre, not to mention Dre’s influence and tutoring of Em in the studio, which helped Em to really master his ambitions and frustrations, and shape the classic album that we heard.

The Slim Shady LP was a complete surprise after Infinite. Especially with most entering the album with expectations of one-dimensional shock-rap, after hearing the lead-in single “My Name Is”. Contrary to that presumption – the album is brimming with incredibly complex and beautiful lyricism, hilarious storytelling, social-commentary and ironic, post-modern, daring provocation.

This was Eminem’s true introduction to the world.

Eminem - Infinite Album #3The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

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What did Eminem do next? Well, he came back with The Marshall Mathers LP.

Bold, inventive, outlandish, provocative and astounding… are just five adjectives that could be, and have been used, many times over the years to describe what is often considered Em’s ultimate artistic achievement, to this day. As a fan, I would have to agree with that sentiment.

Never before have I heard such a hilarious, incredibly nuanced, politically daring, conceptually brilliant, consistent combination of rhyming, musicality, introspection, social-commentary and creative asides.

This album was one holy fuck of a surprise. Many presumed Eminem was not only something of a one-hit wonder, but that he was limited in his versatility, style and approach; The Slim Shady LP was seen as a brilliant album, but nobody expected Eminem to build upon his vision in the way that he did.

Eminem effectively took in the criticisms, misunderstandings and outrage of his commercial debut and spat out this spastic masterpiece. This album may go down as his ultimate contribution to the genre. And the world. Artistically… I’m not sure if he will ever top it. It’s head-fucking-brilliance.

Eminem - Infinite Album #4The Eminem Show (2002)

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What came next was probably the most surprising turn in Eminem’s career.

After two provocative albums filled with arguably juvenile content… nobody pegged (well, those of us who understood him knew that he already had done it) Eminem as an artist capable of truly serious introspection and refinement. His response? The Eminem Show.

His evolution up until this point illustrates what kind of artist Eminem is, which is: a reactionary artist.

Eminem has always, and probably will always gauged the reaction to his material and then use that fuel, be it positive or negative – as energetic stimulus that forms the foundation of his next body of work.

The Eminem Show showed that not only was Em capable of more than fantasies and provocation, but that he was a truly spectacular songwriter. This is the album where Eminem evolved into a MUSICIAN.

Up until this album – he was a genius lyricist with an adept ear for production, and, a fantastic producer himself. But he had not quite become what he would become on The Eminem Show. That being – a full-fledged writer of songs that cross genres and commit wholeheartedly to subject-matter.

Eminem - Infinite Album #5Encore (2004)

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After putting out what many fans and critics consider his most consistent album (The Eminem Show), Em came back with his LEAST consistent album: Encore (2004). If that’s not a fucking surprise, I don’t know what is.

Many fans, and Em himself – disregard and disown this album as his worst. I agree.

Why was it a surprise? Well, he went from a righteous, rap-rock powerhouse lyricist… to “Just Lose It” and “Ass Like That”. Like I said: for better or worse, he always surprises us.

Nobody seriously expected Em to come with a song like “Big Weenie” after knocking out tracks such as “Soldier”. Although maybe we should have when he went from “My Name Is” to “Stan”.

Encore is easily his most inconsistent album due to the fact that it pretty much contains 50{971d0a072875b4b9fb7a027a51293b64e24a2a4063055416ceedc6df90dc9fcb} self-serious tracks and 50{971d0a072875b4b9fb7a027a51293b64e24a2a4063055416ceedc6df90dc9fcb} goofy tracks. Em had always juggled his personas and sides of his personality to create a varied batch of moods and tones… but up until now, he MERGED the sides to create songs that were serious AND funny… and funny AND serious. There was a combinatory factor at work.

With Encore… that’s lost. My personal conclusion is that he was actually very serious during this time period (evident from his demeanor and mood around this time, and the fact it was the beginning of his harrowing drug addiction to painkillers) but felt some obligation (or perhaps he was ‘encouraged’ to) to fulfill the silly side we had become accustom to. Which could explain why it sounds so forced.

Because Em may not have felt like being funny, we got trite like “Ass Like That” –  perhaps due to the fact he was overcompensating, and forcing this material out of himself.

He had also began to become viewed as a ‘self-serious artist’ after The Eminem Show; despite the fact that he’s fucking hilarious in spots of it, the overall tone was jagged-edged, aggressive and serious. so perhaps tracks like “Rain Man” were his response. Em always rebels the labels.

The album is not without its gems though, “Crazy In Love” has some of the most poignant love lyrics Em has ever penned, spat out in an exhilarating, continuous melody of a flow.

Eminem - Infinite Album #6Relapse (2009)

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Where to start…

I guess by saying that I fucking LOVE Relapse. That’s not relevant to why it was surprising, but I feel it my duty to praise its brilliance in response to the amount of flack the album has gotten, which I feel is unjust. I’m also slightly annoyed by the fact that Em took to heart the initial reactions of fickle fans who clearly never got him to begin with, and changed the course of his material.

Whatever you feel about the album – anybody who says they predicted he would come back with Relapse, is full of shit. There was no way to predict this sound, it was brand new.

After the commercial heights of 2002-2004, after the level of fame he had reached at his peak; after how accustom he had become to responding to criticism head-on within his material and making his personal life the prime focus of his work… the notion that he would come back from a four and a half year hiatus from planet Earth with an insanely lyrical, cinematic, theatrical, bouncy bombast hybrid of a horrorcore… Frankenstein’s monster of an album like this, would seem… unlikely at best.

As a fan, I wanted this. I absolutely wanted this. I was hoping, wishing and dreaming that he would come back like a fucking beast and disregard everything he’d done before. And rap purely for the sake of creating compelling art and pushing buttons again. And that’s exactly what he did.

The rap style(s), the production, the concept, the imagery; the songs, subject-matter and just whole… sound of Relapse is fucking immense. It’s not just about how good (which is ‘very fucking’ btw) Em is on Relapse though, but how different it is too. It sounds fuck all like any of his prior albums, which is also a very applause-worthy feat to achieve, a decade into his mainstream career.

Not only does Relapse sound nothing like the rest of HIS catalog though… unless my memory is being a douche-baggish-cuntish memory, it sounds fuck all like anything else I’ve heard in rap to date either. There’s tinges of Internal Affairs perhaps, but generally speaking… it sounds totally unique.

As with many works of great art that are divisive in nature – they’re understood after the fact. This has slowly been (and will continue to be) the case with Relapse.

Many fans disliked the style of his rapping, or more specifically, his ‘accents’ on the album; but more specifically than that – everybody had their preconceptions and expectations of the kind of material Eminem would and should come back with. Predictably, most people’s ideas on what it ‘should sound like’ were not fulfilled and many haphazardly disregarded the album.

The critical respect and standing with fans, of Relapse, will massively improve with time. Mark my words.

Eminem - Infinite Album #7Recovery (2010)

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Most recent to Em’s expansive epilogue of epicness, is Recovery.

Was Recovery surprising? You can bet your sense of self-fucking-worth it was. It was incredibly surprising. ESPECIALLY after Relapse.

As I keep saying, for better or worse – one thing you can never dispute, is how surprising Eminem is each time out, and this is reflected in his sales. Many bitter, shit black rappers like to throw around this lazy, misguided idea that Eminem still sells heaps because he’s white. Oh really? Where’s Vanilla Ice then… and if your response to that is “Yes but he’s white AND GOOD”… Where’s Yelawolf? Remind me how much he sold? Sales are not driven or deterred by skin colour. Kids don’t give a fuck.

If the only formula for international success in rap was white + good, there would be many more internationally known white rappers than Eminem. There ain’t.

One of the most under-appreciated and least talked about elements in Eminem’s continued success is the element of surprise. He keeps a phenmomenol momentum due to the fact that even his most hardcore fans never really know what to expect. I don’t think the same can be said about any other mainstream rapper, except for perhaps Kanye West.

After the obsessively detailed, horrific and humorous narratives of Relapse… who the FUCK in their right, or left mind predicted Eminem would come with an emotionally charged pop-rap-powerhouse album like Recovery, collaborating with fucking Pink, or rapping over a “What is Love?” Sample!?

Those previous lines were not to imply Recovery is bad, as I actually love Recovery. And the idea of putting Rihanna on the chorus of “Love the Way You Lie” was a genius move by Eminem, similar to him performing with Elton John in front of GLAAD protestors in 2001.

Recovery sounds absolutely nothing like any of his other albums. Once again, we were surprised.

Eminem - Infinite Album #8 – ?

This is the year where Eminem will release his 8th official studio album.

The big question on the tip of all of our tongues is “how will he surprise us?”…

If we look at Eminem’s track record so far… It was damn near impossible to predict the stylistic changes that Eminem went through from one album to the next. Sure, he’s swam in similar waters in terms of subject-matter, on all of his albums up until now… so we can probably predict that his new album will be provocative, contain lots of swearing, personal references, tongue-in-cheek humour and catchy hooks. But beyond that, how will it sound?

If his recent features (“Here Comes the Weekend” with Pink, “C’mon Let Me Ride” with Skylar Grey) are anything to go by, not to mention his BET Cypher from 2011 – then the best guess is that he’ll have a mix of harsh and smooth flows, with humorous and cheeky content. I get the sense that he’s most likely to sound like he did on his BET Cypher. And I fucking hope so, since that verse is amazing.

Royce has also implied that the content will be highly controversial and dark, saying as much as “I don’t know how the world is going to react” to some of the material that he has heard from Em, and also that something he heard ‘gave him nightmares’… (McLovin’) NICE!. That’s what true Em-heads want Em.

If the hints so far are anything to go by, we can expect a dark, daring album.

It’s also intriguing as to what he will rap about. We know that he’ll probably have provocative lines galore, we know he’ll bait some big names and perhaps namedrop the odd recent event, but what is the main core of the subject-matter going to be about? It’s an interesting question as he truly is at the end of his road with ‘life material’ right now, which is the danger of making your material SO tied to your story, and why I don’t like it, as it’s predictable. And the easiest route.

With Recovery, Em poured his heart out about his drug tribulations, and Proof… and I truly can’t see him going way back and bringing up childhood issues at this point. He has to go forward, and something about that BET Cypher tells me he’s truly trying to get back into ‘MMLP mode’… those lines intended to offend, feel stronger and more reminiscent of his social sting circa 2000 due to the fact he’s referencing real events, and not simply goading celebrities and being cartoonishly insane.

Also, we’ve heard little about the production of the album, which makes me think Em is mainly self-producing this one. Em has been doing a lot of executive producing (Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse and Skylar Grey) for other artists, not to mention co-production (Hell: The Sequel) which says to me one thing: he’s been practicing for his own, buffing up behind the boards in order to sharpen up his production senses for his new body of work. Which, would be fucking heaven, tbfh.

Whilst the release date of Eminem’s new album may still be unknown, answer me this…

Eminem fans: are ready for a self-produced, fucked-up Shady classic? Bring it on!

12 thoughts to “Eminem’s New Album: How Will He Surprise Us?

  • ben shriram

    the legend will be back soon with a bang………….woooooooooooo cant wait <3

    Reply
  • stan

    I really can’t wait! 😀 I hope it’s not his last album.. :/

    Reply
  • Andy

    I can’t wait!

    Reply
  • Addy

    Get more active on this, Em has a new verse out on Tony Touch’s mixtape called Symphony In H.

    Reply
  • beni

    Now im listening 2 toy soldier…And i cant wait to get that fuckin album.Love u em.

    Reply
  • hamed mather

    hi i am one of em’s fan and i really enjoy when i listen to his voice ….

    so i got question : when this one {the great one} will come out ?

    and now i’m listening to “our house” song it’s perfect !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  • EminemFan

    I think think the speculation a while ago about his album being about him being a born again christian, faith in God, and spirituality may end up being the new albums core theme. So i disagree about you saying he has rapped about all ‘real life topics’ this would be something new that he has never written about and quite exciting to hear.

    Reply
  • Nvgt

    Well written to the point. Love the way you pick things and elaborate it. Expecting more articles like this in next few months. 🙂

    Reply
  • Pinkman

    I always enjoy your posts on trshady and this one is no exception.
    I really can’t wait for the new album. Here’s hoping for another classic 🙂

    Reply
  • Rabbit

    I have been waiting for you to write something. 🙂 Nice article man, can’t waite for the new Eminem album either. Keep on writting articles like this, i love reading them. 🙂

    Reply
    • EminemBase

      Thanks a lot man 🙂 I’m glad you enjoy the writing!

      Are you subscribed via RSS or email, or do you just check the blog now and then?

      Reply
      • Rabbit

        I just check the blog now and then, I find it to be easier. ^^

        Reply

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