Eminem: Relapse

Having fought a prescription-pill addiction and mourned his murdered friend Proof, Eminem has chosen new album Relapse as his therapy. Whereas he played 2004's Encore largely for laughs, Relapse is an oft-shocking plunder of the depths of his psyche and his imagination. "My Mom" explores the genetic and familial repercussions of drug addiction, while "Insane" concerns sexual abuse. The latter track is as gruesome as his previous shock anthems like "Kim" and "Kill You," if not more so; at one point in the song, he raps from the perspective of an elementary-school child being molested by his stepfather. Elsewhere he taunts reality-show stars ("We Made You") or spits dexterously over the latest batch of hypnotic Dr. Dre earworms ("Bagpipes from Baghdad"), but for the most part he's addressing serious topics in a sincere way. At least, as sincerely as one could expect him to, which is to say in accents ranging from British to Jamaican to Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. But Relapse feels honest throughout, and though it's sometimes almost too painful to bear, the listener is left glad that Em has once again chosen not to sugar-coat the horrors of his existence.

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