Eminem’s ninth album Revival has been out for one week and, as the man himself correctly predicted on “Walk On Water,” fans and critics alike have been harping on and griping about the album’s missteps (I would say “of which there are many,” but the album as a whole feels like another frustrating misstep from a once-brilliant artist who, ironically, has been stumbling ever since he got sober. Only on Revival, he walks right into dog shit).
That isn’t to say there aren’t small, glimmering chunks of sweetcorn in this mess of trodden-on dog turd, though. The devilishly twisted “Framed” successfully revives the old Slim Shady, “Bad Husband” is an earnest letter of apology to his ex-wife Kim, who he’s killed on wax—and divorced in real life—twice, while “Castle” and “Arose” close the curtains on the album in truly emotive, cinematic fashion.
But with these fleeting highs come long, painful comedowns. Failing to deliver on the title’s promise—if you believed Marshall was able to keep it in the first place—Revival is saturated with goofy rock records (blame Rick Rubin), corny pop ballads (someone needs to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Pink from Eminem’s memory) and enough awkward, juvenile and downright terrible punchlines to make even Slim Shady want to drown himself.
Here are the 20 worst lyrics on Revival (of which there are many).
"Such a breeze when I pen rhymes / I just got that air about me like wind chimes"—"Believe"
If, 10 seconds into a song, you’re rhyming “rhymes” with “wind chimes,” your pen game ain’t that “breezy,” bro. I’m not surprised air is on Eminem’s mind because the way he raps these opening lines, it sounds like his brain has been suffocated of oxygen since “Walk On Water” started playing. “This album’s… off to a… great start / How long... until he says… ‘fart’?”
"This rap shit got me travellin’ place to place / You barely leave your house / ’Cause you’re always stuck at your pad, it’s stationary (/stationery)"—“Chloraseptic”
I was around 9 years old when I learned the difference between “stationary” and “stationery” (that’s what we call a homonym, kids!) and it’s never been funny or clever since. This is basically JAY-Z’s “I’m everywhere, you ain’t never there” translated for Call of Duty game chat.
"Like your bitch when she gives me brain / Like she thinks I’m dumb"—“Chloraseptic”
She's correct, Marshall. You know why? Because this dumb line came out of your mouth.
"The way I’m kickin’ these fairies’ tails (/fairytales) / I should write a children’s storybook"—“Chloraseptic”
And it should be about a rapper-in-shining-Under Armor called Phresher, who rescues 2 Chainz from appearing on this song and bravely sacrifices himself in the process.
"Why is it they treat us like dryer lint?"—"Untouchable"
- “12 treat a n*gga like he 12” — Frank Ocean, “Chanel"
- “Treat us like slaves then they lock us up in cages” — 21 Savage, “Nothin New”
- “I said they treat me like a slave, cah’ me black” — Assassin, “The Blacker The Berry”
- “They do all the lying and treat us like prisoners”— Bas, "Too High to Riot"
- “The government treat us like peasants” — E-40, "Off the Block"
These are just five examples from the last few years of rappers comparing the treatment of black people at the hands of the authorities to better—and less, I dunno, less peculiar—things than dryer lint. Maybe it’s because they’re actually black, who knows.
"Always the bridesmaid, never 'The bride, hey!'"—"River"
If being forced to listen to an Eminem and Ed Sheeran song counts as torture, this line is like being tied to a chair and having your ear flicked really fucking hard. It’s weird, it’s awkward, but it still hurts like a motherfucker.
"I’m lookin’ at your tight rear like a sightseer / Your booty is heavy duty (/doody) like diarrhea"—“Remind Me”
“Remind Me” finds Eminem, 45, quite literally gushing over a woman he met on a night out (presumably at a biker bar) who has a crazy body and mean head game. It’s like watching your uncle hit the town wearing his “lucky” leather jacket and attempt to pick up girls 20 years his junior by simply revving his motorcycle. Remind me to never listen to this song ever again.
"He’s tryin’ to divide us / The shit’s like a cult, but like Johnny he’ll only unite us (/Unitas)"—"Like Home"
This line single-handedly divided the American people—into those who stopped listening to Revival at this exact moment, and those who didn’t (besides, half of Americans seem to enjoy voting against their own interests).
"This type of pickle that we’re in is hard to deal (/dill)"—"Like Home"
I’m pretty sure this line made me cringe more than the time I tried eating an actual dill pickle.
"The swastika with your name carved in it / Should be your trademark, ’cause hate’s all you played off / And you just lick the plate off / So I guess it pays to feed off of chaos / So basically, you ate off (/Adolf) Hitler!"—"Like Home"
Eminem’s second verse on “Like Me” shapes up pretty nicely. In a no-holds-barred attack on Donald Trump, he calls him out for buddying up to the KKK and adopting neo-Nazism. But whatever nuclear bomb Em thought he was about to drop on The Donald essentially implodes on itself thanks to elementary humor and wordplay. “Ate off Hitler” is a prime example of Eminem needlessly sacrificing the broader—and in this case, bolder—message for #bars.
"’Cause like a dictionary, things are lookin’ up / So much, got a sprained neck, know we would rise up"—"Like Home"
Yeah, I’m done with this song. Next.
“But I’m sorry, Kim / More than you could ever comprehend / Leavin’ you was fuckin’ harder than / Sawing off a fuckin’ body limb"—"Bad Husband"
If this is how Eminem talks about his break up with Kim, I can only imagine how he got with her in the first place. “Girl, you’re so fucking fly, you belong in the mile high club.” (Full disclosure: that's an actual line from “Remind Me.”)
"Since I’m manure, she’s a sewer / And this time this piece of shit’s running through her"—"Tragic Endings"
Eminem opens this song by rapping, “All my life, I was told, I was never nothing special / I don’t need to be reminded of it every other second / ‘Specially when all my self-esteem’s / Already shot to hell, I’m falling helplessly.” Even a hatin' ass hater like myself couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guy. Until I heard him say, “Since I’m manure, she’s a sewer / And this time this piece of shit’s running through her.” God helps those who help themselves, homie.
"Make time stop, will I ever fall off? That day will never come / ’Til the pine box, bitch, fuck you! I’m better than I ever was"—"Nowhere Fast"
Even FOX would report this as fake news.
"From the first time I saw you, I actually / Said to myself, 'I gotta meet her' (/meter) like a taxi"—"Heat"
“Heat” is like “Remind Me”’s even more sexually-frustrated wingman. Over another dad-rock rap beat courtesy of Rick Rubin, Eminem (or should I say Slim Shady) finds himself under the irresistible spell of a "massive" behind. If anything brings the worst out of Eminem’s rhymes on Revival, though, it’s when he’s “stiff as a statue” with twisted fantasies in mind and a pen in hand. “From the first time I saw you, I actually / Said to myself, ‘I gotta meet her’ like a taxi” is only the beginning of this one, folks.
"Grab you by the (meow!), hope it’s not a problem, in fact / About the only thing I agree on with Donald is that / So when I put this palm on your cat / Don’t snap, it’s supposed to get grabbed / Why do you think they call it a snatch?"—"Heat"
This kind of crude, button-pushing humor probably would have flown 15 years ago, but in 2017, it feels a little counterproductive, if not downright distasteful—not least because Eminem literally dedicated an entire song to taking down Trump just five songs earlier. I mean, you didn't see Em criticising George Bush on "Mosh" to then make fun of his administration's foreign policies elsewhere on Encore.
"She wants a computer lodged in her vagina / Said my dick is an apple, she said put it inside her"—"Heat"
AppleInsider is a news site dedicated to everything Apple. Apple cider is a beverage. Get It? Great. Neither of those things excuses putting the image of either an apple or, worse, a computer being “lodged” in a vagina in our heads, though.
"So let’s get turnt like a shish kabab / Twist it, ma, like an air-conditioning knob"—"Heat"
At this point, it’s pretty clear that charming the opposite sex isn’t Eminem’s forté.
"’Cause nobody likes me, everybody hates me / They want me to go eat some worms"—“Offended”
As the title suggests, the whole point of “Offended” is that you’re an idiot if you get offended by Eminem’s lyrics—and with lines like, “I’m still coppin’ a feel / Like Bill Cosby at will, popping a pill,” there’s plenty of buttons being pushed (welcome to The Eminem Show). Perhaps the only thing you should take offense at, though, is a 45-year-old rapper, legacy on the line, making a hook out of the playground song, “Nobody Likes Me (Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms).” He later replaces “worms” with “turds.” Fuck this, I'm putting 4:44 on.
"I’m swimmin’ in that Egyptian river, ’cause I’m in denial (/The Nile)"—“Need Me”
And so is anyone telling themselves Revival is a good album.