And it seems we have at last the self-lacerating, clear-eyed therapy record Eminem’s been promising since putting his career on hold back in 2005 in order to head off to rehab. On “Talkin 2 Myself,” the rapper paints a portrait of a struggling Eminem in the booth, popping pills and contemplating dissing Lil Wayne, or Kanye, mostly out of sheer desperation — “Thank god that I didn’t do it/I’d have had my ass handed to me,” he raps. A bunch of songs later, he and Wayne team up instead over a sample of Haddaway’s “What Is Love” — a happier outcome, to say the least, and more so for the fact that the song is fire.
Whether an album full of self-recrimination and regret — 17 straight songs about the sadness of Marshall Mathers, in other words — will be any more palatable to Em’s old audience than a record full of funny accents and horror-core antics (that’d be last year’s Rehab), well, we’ll find out in two weeks, when Recovery receives a proper release. For what it’s worth, that makes two high-profile rap albums in 2010 — Drake’ Thank Me Later being the other — explicitly about the pain of being a high-profile rapper. When did hip-hop get so meta?