Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Eminem: Recovery [Aftermath/Interscope, 2010]
The comeback is for Eminem, not Slim Shady--and for Marshall at his most martial. His most confessional as well--he admits Relapse was "ehh," admits he came this close to beefing with Wayne and Kanye, admits "I'da had my ass handed to me." No matter how cleverly he's rhyming, which varies, he could use subject matter beyond married-to-the-game and his traditional obsessions. But with Shady in the shadows, rarely are these themes lifted by Em's long-recessive sense of play. Bringing the proceedings over the top, however, are the three final tracks: Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie" hook depositing some bodily fluids on Em's conjugal seesaw, "You're Never Over" nailing Marshall's love for Proof, and the bonus boast "Untitled" renewing our love for Shady. And delivering the best music qua music in 77 minutes is none other than Lil Wayne, whose 16 on "No Love" would be the funkiest thing here if Wayne didn't then hand Eminem his ass back by inserting acutely timed grunts and such for the rest of the track. A-