Watching Eminem attempt to re-situate himself in the hip hop landscape in the past year or so has been a bizarre spectacle. He roared out of his post-‘Encore’ slumber in early 2009 with a puppy-ish ness to rap again, spitting verses for anyone who put him in front of a microphone with a desperation that suggested he was making up for lost time; exploding back onto the hip hop mainstream with another song showing his blatant appetence to remind people that he thinks his last two albums prior to ‘Recovery’ were “shit”, “whack” and “in the trash can”. In fact, Eminem spent most of ‘Recovery’ bleating about that very subject, as if he felt the first 9000 times wasn’t clear enough. The more we heard that he’d re-gained his love of hip hop and how he’s finally figured out “who he is”, the more recycled, void of personality, and witless he became… and that was just in ‘Not Afraid’. The album also decided to repeat the aforementioned subjects, as well as his double, even triple-time raps about how he’s “gunna take care of [his] daughters”; how he won’t let various rapping upstarts “get up in his ass”, as well as plenty of other topics he’d already covered to better standards on his previous “shit” albums. He also added a bit of humour here and there, too.
No, I was not a fan of ‘Recovery’.
In makes sense then, that the third cut from the album, ‘No Love’, is going to go the route of ‘Not Afraid’, rather than ‘Love The Way You Lie’, a rare moment on ‘Recovery’ when we saw an ounce of character in Eminem; it had Rihanna to help us listen to his desperate whinings which got overly tedious the more it was played (to be fair, it lost it’s charm the first 50 times I heard it on Radio 1 whilst be driven to sixth form one morning). ‘No Love’ is once again establishing why Eminem believes himself to be the best rapper in the world, and how he no longer needs your help because you never helped him when he was down – “Look at those rappers and how I treat ’em/So why the fuck would I join ’em when I beat ’em?”, as well as showing us that he appears to have been granted a new lease of life – “I’m alive, more alive than I have ever been”, but at times, you just wish he’d go back to something less depressing and something with a little less seriousness, as one of Eminem’s major assets was his frequently exercised ability to laugh at himself, á la ‘Without Me’ and ‘We Made You’. It’s okay to have the odd blow at your own horn every now and then, but when it gets to the point you begin to lose the one thing that actually did make you better than your peers – in Eminem’s case: his humouress lyrical prowess – then it just become a harsh-on-the-ears, unimaginative list of “the things I can do” and “the things I have done”, which incidentally makes you inferior to your peers, only because you used to be better than that; at least your peers are consistently bad.
The song flits in and out of it’s themes, choosing to wear the shallow veil of egoism and stubbornly refusing to remove it unless it’s to add name calling to procedures, best proved by – “Bitch, you get no love”, oh, and my personal favourite – “Get these whack cock suckers off the stage”.
Now, it’s not like I was expecting a politely written inquest, nor is it a statement that’s really meant to be taken literally, but even if he is Eminem – why does he think that he can come out off the back of two albums he himself has deemed “shit” and expect the world to bend over for him? Times have changed: people are enjoying mindless raps about pulling power and money; no-one cares for how Eminem has messed up his life anymore. As harsh as it sounds, it’s the reality of the situation. And people are depressed enough with the current state of affairs in the economy, hence why everyone’s running to get the next big song about partying or simply forgetting your troubles, because music is – as I’ve said many times before – a form of escapism, as it has the power to make people forget their stresses and the things that are weighing down on them.
He’s rapping the same song with different lyrics. Half the reason why ‘Love The Way You Lie’ did so well was because it made you think “Holy crap, this really happens to people like you and me”, but what’s the betting you’ve never said – or even heard – “Been to Hell and back/I can show you vouchers”, and the chance you’ll get to say it and mean it is even lower. ‘No Love’ is basically about Eminem, for Eminem, and rapped by Eminem, plus a man who needs to stop getting his highs from helium.
If the following video has been removed, don’t worry, you’ve seen it all before. A kid gets bullied in school by a Justin Bieber look-alike and two others; the kid’s parents are no help and the whole thing is intercut with scenes of Eminem in a studio.
Not exactly encore – or even ‘Encore’ – material.
It’s taken me quite a while to write this review, hence why I actually started writing it weeks ago. It’s been a long time coming because the song is so irritating and self-pitying. Lil’ Wayne doesn’t even sound like he wants to be there: rapping in a sedate, bored manner and lolling from side to side in the video, and Eminem’s just as shouty and emotionally void as he is on all the other tracks on ‘Recovery’.
My main issue with this is that he’s done it before – and he did it better, AND he didn’t’ need Lil’ Wayne when he did it either. ‘No Love’ just comes off as a desperate attempt to reinstate himself at the top of the rap game, with some controversial lyrics and a “shocking” video, forgetting that mainstream rap music now comprises of simplistic, throw-away R&B/pop songs, with the occasional David Guetta production.
To quote Eminem on ‘No Love’: “You’re so good that you can’t say it/Cuz when you do you know/It ain’t even cool for you to sound cocky anymore“.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that*.
*Plus, a ga-ZILLION people have ‘Recovery’ now, even my mum, so I won’t expect it to chart all that impressively.
Rating: 1.5 STARS
Download: November 8, 2010 (OUT NOW)
Featured Album: ‘Recovery’