There are many Eminem fans who view, and perhaps correctly so, Recovery as a major turning point in his career. Released on this day ten years ago, Em’s seventh studio album marked his first release fully embracing sobriety — of course, Relapse was penned while clean, but Em himself likened the writing process to “flushing the drugs out.” It also marked a transition away from his established sound, handing production reins to new collaborators like Just Blaze, DJ Khalil, and AlexDaKid. Yet that’s not to say Eminem abandoned his roots — though he was experimenting with new styles, “On Fire” found him once again revisiting the dark depravity of Slim Shady.
Over an absolutely menacing instrumental from his longtime friend and collaborator Denaun Porter, Em threw caution to the wind and let fly a salvo of twisted bars. Never once raising his voice, the verse embodied the Slim Shady spirit, capturing imagery at once zany, cartoonish, and hyperviolent. “Dissin’ me is just like pissing off the Wizard of Oz, wrap a lizard in gauze,” he raps. “Beat you in the jaws with it, grab the scissors and saws / and cut out your livers, gizzards, and balls, throw you in the middle of the ocean in a blizzard with Jaws.”
Insofar as effortless lyricism is concerned, few can weave words with such brutal elegance as Eminem. Especially when paired over some haunting pianos. Happy anniversary to Recovery — where do you feel this one ranks within his catalog?
Flows tighter, hot-headed as Ghost Rider
Cold-hearted as Spider-Man throwing a spider in the snow
So you better get lower than Flo-rida
Inside of a lowrider with no tires, in a hole
Why am I like this? Why is winter cold?
Why is it when I talk I’m so biased to the hoes?
Listen dawg, Christmas is off, this is as soft as it gets
This isn’t golf, this is a blistering assault