Most Eminem fans thirst for new material like crack, because Em’s songs are so addictive. It’s crack music.
Em has been notoriously selective throughout his career, making sure to make each album a truly new chapter, making much less guest appearances than most (until recently) and intentionally making people wait for and anticipate his next work.
Eminem and his team fully appreciate the element of surprise, and always want fans to want more.
This is the Eminem we’re used to, we expect to wait about two years between albums.
Since his comeback (2009, not 2010 as critics keep stating) however, Em has treated us to a much more regular rate of output, giving us an official release for the last three years in a row…
First, he comes back with the incredibly lyrical Relapse – in 2009.
Next, he creates a commercial smash, Recovery – in 2010.
Then, he gives us a slice of hip-hop heaven with the Bad Meets Evil EP, Hell: The Sequel – in 2011.
We’re now into 2012, but nobody is quite sure what to expect from him this year. There are light murmurs of a new solo album, but this is more-so just wishful chatter amongst fans as there’s been absolutely no confirmation of a new album by Eminem himself, or anybody close to him.
There is talk of the next D12 album which is presumably next up, after Em finishes helping Slaughterhouse with their Shady debut, but there’s been no real official confirmation beyond the odd hint from Bizarre (which has been happening since 2007). Royce did say to look out for a D12 album soon, in the behind the scenes video of the Shady 2.0 cypher though.
Even though we had the Bad Meets Evil EP in 2011, this was obviously a collaboration with Royce and not new solo material, though it did show Em with yet another slight evolution in style and execution.
He’s still screaming out his verses with eye-popping intensity as he was on Recovery, but his content is becoming even more focused in battle-rap subject-matter, he continues to experiment with fast-to-slow flow patterns and he’s using anger ever more so to emphasize punchlines.
Personally, I can’t see a new Eminem album any sooner than late 2012 because not only is he currently heavily involved with the creation, production and mastering of the Slaughterhouse Shady debut album but assuming a new D12 album is next, that will take up most of 2012 in terms of creation and release. And he usually handles a lot of the production there too. All of this is bound to take a lot out of him creatively. I think 2013 even may be a more realistic date for new solo material.
By June of this year, it will have been two years since Recovery.
Leaving potential release dates aside, what do you actually expect from Em on his next album?
Now, I purposely chose the word ‘expect’ here as, what you may want and what you expect could be two different things. So, judging by his current style as we’ve heard in his most recent appearance – the Shady 2.0 Cypher (BET), and judging from the reaction to Recovery (as he clearly listens and cares now), and whatever other factors you would like to add into the mix… what do you actually EXPECT for the next album. Where do you think he’s going to go conceptually, musically and stylistically?
I myself, actually have no idea what to expect. It would seem obvious to conclude that he may follow his recent trend of punchlines and sung hooks but, Eminem evolves his sound and execution every album. He sounds totally different in one way or another, each time round. So I wouldn’t expect any different next time. For some reason though, I do have this unfounded but distinct suspicion that no significant evolution will take place, next time. And I have no real reason to think he’d stop changing at this point, but he just seems really stuck in this current style of loud production, sung hooks and puns.
It would be foolish to ever consider Eminem predictable though. Whilst he may swim in similar waters content-wise, he continues to totally refresh himself stylistically.
Consider Encore, consider how accepted and loved Eminem was in the mainstream at that time, consider how known he was all over the globe. Then, there’s a five year gap, then comes Relapse. Now, I don’t think a single Eminem fan alive, if they were being honest could say they predicted Relapse. I’m not saying nobody expected him to come back with something offensive but, after such a silly yet accessible album in Encore, and to be at THAT level… and then to come back with an insanely focused, insanely dark lyrical album with a serial-killer theme and obsessive talk of prescription medication throughout? I mean, there’s just no way I could have predicted him coming back with something like that.
Then again, right after that, he comes with Recovery. Which, isn’t actually as ‘mainstream’ (implying it’s soft or watered down) as some keep suggesting. I mean, the opening track pretty much verbally bites your face off for even daring to spin the CD, and he’s as aimlessly angry and vile as I’ve ever heard him be throughout an entire album. He’s consistently impassioned and raging, but to go from Relapse to Recovery, in terms of sound / style… again, totally unexpected.
If you listen to Em’s verse on the Shady 2.0 Cypher (BET), you will actually notice some slight alterations to style… he is still writing puns for the thrill of it but, he’s really taken to this idea of using shouting to emphasize comedy. I did mention this earlier but it’s very evident here. You’ll notice Em go from soft to loud – he starts off softer, giving you the feed line and then raps more intensely and loudly for the punchline… it’s actually quite an interesting technique. It may seem trivial to some to dissect such relatively minor alteration and execution, but I think it’s taken for granted how much he does actually experiment with pitch, tone, flow and just rap styles as a whole.
In fact, I don’t think I’ve heard any rapper experiment and change as readily or with as much dedication.
On his next album (if there is one)… I think what we may see is, a continuation of this style and perhaps more concepts and storytelling. I don’t think it will be particularly hard for Em to come up with new ideas all in all, but I do think it’ll be hard to hang the next album on a theme as he has with all his other albums. As he truly has used up the last chunk of recent ‘life material’ now.
People say this every album and he always then comes back with stuff to talk about, but what’s changed is the fact that Em has covered his childhood and personal relationships now and seemingly doesn’t want to rely on that for material anymore. He’s also covered fame, isolation and depression at length… and his drug addiction, the death of Proof and his return to stardom completely consumed Relapse and Recovery. So he truly is up to date now.
I am actually glad that he is up to date and done with the past too, as frankly, I think introspection is a waste of his talent. Don’t get me wrong, he sometimes reaches tremendous heights of lyricism and depth when he goes in that direction, but as a whole, I find it monotonous due to the fact it’s barely art. All self-expression or intended art, IS art, but I mean… it’s not creative. Eminem is one of the most creative rappers to ever pick up a pen when he wants to be, so it’s an absolute shame to see him whither his talents away in self-indulgence and repetitive life documenting. I don’t bubble up at the thought of new material from him so that I can catch up on his latest trials and tribulations, I’m not a fan of soap opera. I tune in for his lyrical genius and potential creativity – I want to be blown away with originality and skill.
Having said this, Recovery did actually satisfy my urges in most respects. It gets noted as an ‘introspective album’ when in reality, there are only a few tracks that truly document the struggle. The other tracks are more abstract and either indulge in battle rhymes (“Cold Wind Blows”, “On Fire”, “Won’t Back Down”), fictional love tales (“Space Bound”, “Love the Way You Lie”) or high-concepts (“25 to Life, “Cinderella Man”, “Almost Famous”), there’s quite a variety. Recovery is actually a really good album which, whilst being very insular and inwardly searching (which makes total sense given that it’s, Eminem’s… recovery) – does reach for the stars in many respects. I think it’s just the loud and inconsistent production that lets it down. I think if Em had produced it, it could have been a classic to me.
As for the next album, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.