Now, unless you’ve been living inside your own head… or a cupboard, for the past twelve months – it would of been near-impossible for you to not of been beaten across the head senseless with Shady’s success. Notice that I didn’t say comeback year as, although many critics unfairly like to dismiss and forget Relapse as if it never happened, 2009 WAS his comeback year and Relapse was his comeback album. Not 2010, and not Recovery.
But, semantics aside, it was also a great year for him. And arguably his ‘commercial comeback’. But let’s not forget, Relapse sold over 600k in its first week and had three charting singles. So I’d hardly say it was a flop, regardless of certain people’s ability to appreciate the art of lyricism for what it is. Mini-rant: over.
Okay, so 2010, why was it Eminem’s year and what did he achieve…
Well, thanks to the release of the official numbers, we now know Recovery was the top-selling album of the year, with over 3.4 million copies sold in the US (and over 5 million worldwide). So, that alone is a massive achievement, in itself but also due to the fact he achieved this in 2002 with The Eminem Show too. Which, is the first time in Nielsen SoundScan history (since 1991) that an artist has done this twice.
Recovery, opened with massive first week sales of 741,000 copies. Which, given the current state of sales but also how deep into his career he is – is STAGGERING. I mean, to be on his SIXTH major-label album, eleven years in the public eye and to sell 741,000 copies, at this stage… is amazing. I think few artists period, in any genre, have kept that kind of momentum. Now, of course Eminem had a rather lengthy gap in his solo output from 2004-2009, of five years. But, a more serious factor in the continued interest is the kind of artist he has remained until now, with thanks of Paul Rosenberg and friends…
In the early days, Em spoke numerous times about not spreading himself too thin, not wanting to make people sick of him and keeping the mystique.
Those are some of the reasons for the continued interest. Most artists who get any sort of recognition say yes to everything around them. They surround themselves with yes men and say yes to everyone surrounding them, they bite at every opportunity that comes their way and burn-out public interst. People get sick of most artists because, let’s face it… no one human is that fascinating. And if you reveal everything about yourself in a short-space of time, if people feel that they have you all worked out… what else is left to wish for? Why would people continue to be mesmerized or interested to the same degree…
Early on, Em hand-picked his collaborations well, stuck mainly to his official output and gave you bits and pieces. Yes, he was everywhere but it wasn’t him putting himself everywhere. He turned down anything that wasn’t directly involved with or an upshot of his artistry; he didn’t jump on commercials or TV promos, he didn’t slap his name on any old tat that was proposed to ‘up his profile’, he didn’t jump on every record thrown his way. Instead, he slowly yet cunningly crafted a path of great respect, he became hip-hop’s spokesman, the torch carrier for freedom of speech, the anti-everything, the lyricist’s lyricist.
And naturally, that whole air of mystique and integrity builds character, at least in our eyes. It makes you want to see and hear more of him to try and figure him out. He’s giving you small yet delicious nibbles of the cake at a time, instead of giant bowls of it topped with whipped cream. So you’re never quite full, you always want more.
That’s of course not all of it, the driving force is the talent. If the talent is bold and continuous enough then, that pretty much rises above all anyway, just look at Michael Jackson for an example of that.
So you combine Eminem’s supreme mix of musical and lyrical talent, his grapple of artistic and comedic form and his conscious and cunning self marketing and… you can begin to explain why after eleven years of being in a commercial market, he’s still one of the biggest (if not the biggest) music artists and faces on planet Earth, and why people would still slaughter a barn full of babies for a two minute freestyle.
What else did Shady do in 2010?
Nobody can of course ignore his two massive hit singles “Not Afraid” and “Love the Way You Lie”, no doubt two of the driving forces behind Recovery‘s commercial success.
“Not Afraid”, the album’s first single, was somewhat of a departure purely because it was serious. All of his album-opening singles up until now had been the celebrity-skewing, tongue-in-cheek, self-parody, cartoony fun-fests we’d all become accustom to. From the jumpsuit mother-jibing of “My Name Is” to the Elvis Presely comparison and break-dancing of “Without Me”. They all encapsulated their time in their own bizarre little ways. But, “Not Afraid” was a self-serious, introspective ballad, an attempt at singing and a public dismissal of Relapse…
It also debuted at #1 on the Billboard 100, being just the 16th song in SoundScan history to do so.
Then we have “Love the Way You Lie”, Em’s unforgettable / or, forgettable… ode, portrayal and encapsulation of domestic violence, featuring Rihanna.
Now, a lot of fans and critics use this collaboration as justification to call the song pop, say Em is pop, say he’s sold-out and blah blah blah (what’s new right?, Dido anyone… ) – But what everybody seems to be missing about this collaboration is the paradox Eminem has again created in relation to the subject-matter. Do you really think it’s a coincidence that Rihanna, a very public victim of extreme domestic violence is the one he chose to sing the hook of a very real, honest, harsh song about?… domestic violence. Of course not, it’s an artistic paradox.
Think back to 2000 when he had GLAAD protesting the very sight of him at the Grammys, who did he perform with? Elton John. Ala repeat.
He’s no stranger to this stunt, it’s in-fact the fuel of his mojo. He’s been doing it since day one and it’s the essence of his artistry. He purposely creates conflicts, contradictions and paradoxes within his own music. He purposely contradicts himself, he purposely puts X with Y when everybody knows, X doesn’t like Y. He’s doing it for a reaction, he’s doing it to confuse you. Make of it what you will, personally – I think it’s brilliant, and poetic. These conflicts he creates say so much more than most could ever say with words alone…
I mean actually consider how poignant and ballsy it is, to put Rihanna (a woman who was severly beaten by her lover in REAL LIFE) on the hook of “Love the Way You Lie” – a very real, brutal track about that very subject. It again muddles the boundaries, it again blends the line between art and reality, and… it’s just such a shame to see people, not see that. To see it at face-value, to not see the obviousness in the move, to think it’s a move for fame or money, are these people awake? I think not, they misread things at a stupendously stupid level.
Personally, I don’t even like “Love the Way You Lie” as a track that much. It’s not a bad track but certainly not one of my favourite from the album, but I can absolutely see why it was as successful as it was and respect it artistically for all the reaosns I just mentioned. It’s not a lapse into commercial sell-outism as dumb-dumbs assume, it’s a step back into ballsy territory. It’s the sign of Eminem once again willing to take on the public brunt of creating very unsettling, disturbing conflicts and paradoxes in his own music. Most people are just too stupid to know he’s aware that he’s the one doing it… or, even that he’s doing anything.
To those people, I say… just give up, give up now. To the people who are with me, read on. Read on.
Apart from amassing immense record sales, single sales, pushing more artistic and lyrical boundaries and once again returning to global super-stardom in a relevant context, Em also racked up a crazy amount of Grammy nominations, ten in total. Including the prestigious ‘Album of the Year’ nomination, and the ever sweet ‘Rap Album of the Year’…
It would be somewhat of a shame to me, if the one album he won ‘Album of the Year’ for was Recovery – not because it’s a bad album, it’s anything but, it’s very very good but… The Marshall Mathers LP deserved it so much more. I actually think The Eminem Show is his best album, musically and lyrically. But as a piece of art, as an album deserving of that award, there’s none other in his cataglog more deserving than The Marshall Mathers LP. Ask yourself, what else went down in the year 2000? Can you honestly say that there was a bigger album in the year 2000 than The Marshall Mathers LP?
Can you say there was an album that kicked up a bigger stink, made a bigger impact, got more people talking? It’s not even a competition. The Marshall Mathers LP was Jurassic and I think possibly the most controversial album in music history. He had fucking Government officials campaigning to ban his music for goodness sake. That’s both a testament to his genius and a testamenet to the stupidity of the Government: you dull fuckers, there’s a good reason he’s behind a mic and you are behind your partner’s backs, getting into sex scandals and conning the public knowhow. You are not artistic people, you do not appreciate irony or depth, you debate fucking oil prices and coax your country into illegal wars. Leave art, the fuck alone. Do you see Eminem waltzing into parlament demanding he see the global economy plans and demanding he have a say in how the country moves forward with political agenda? Of course not. So, Ms. Cheney – if you would, kindly, stay the fuck away from his office. And every artist’s.
Well, that’s another anti-establishment rant over, for now.
So, will Recovery win ‘Album of the Year’ at the Grammys?
What a year for Eminem huh, I can’t wait to see what 2011 will bring. We already have some basic ideas of what’s to come, namely; a new D12 album, Detox (lmao, I know), Slaughterhouse on Shady (I know I know), a supposed new film with Em in the leading role (as a boxer on a comeback trail) called Southpaw and… maybe, new Bad Meets Evil? Who the fuck knows. Stay alert.