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Wandering through the dark tunnel of addiction: an in depth analysis of Relapse’s narrative side

06.04.09 | Emblog | In hip hop, detroit of

Today I am dedicating this article to the readers who might have been disappointed by my latest Relapse review, because it lacked details about what I appreciated in the record and what I really disliked about it. Not that I am going to change my opinion about songs I really dislike, but some songs grew on me after a more attentive listen. Also, like I already stated it, the narrative side of the CD is still worth a look. Enjoy:)
I will put aside the songs I really don’t like in the album, so if I haven’t mentioned songs like We Made You and Crack A Bottle, you all know why!

Anybody who has been following Eminem’s music through the years perfectly knows the artist has been confronted with addiction problems since his childhood. The Slim Shady LP gives you a precise listing of all drugs he has been trying, besides the medication destined to hyperactive kids like Ritalin his own mom gave him. Any person who experienced addiction deeply suffers in his/ her inside world. Drugs seem to soothe the daily spleen of the sufferer who plunges into a fog of forgetness. However when he wakes up, the pain is there, even more acute than before. How do I know? I never had any addiction problem, except to rap music…In fact, I can relate to this addiction problem indirectly, because I have seen a person of my close entourage destroy herself through pills and alcohol. It is very difficult to help an addict, unless the addict becomes really conscious of his addiction.

Muhammad L. Lucious has been a fan of Eminem since 1999.He perfectly understands what Eminem is talking about in his music, as he has been through the same, traumatic experiences: he can relate to the nightmare of the world of addiction in the same way. Listen to his testimony:

“”Growing up in Baltimore in the Cherry Hill neighborhood wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. Surrounded by drug activity whether it be users or sellers. Violence consumed my everyday life, and avoiding these things weren’t easy for everyone. Growing up without a father or a mother, only my grandmother was there for me. She loved and cared for me the best way she could but the outside world seemed too appealing to ignore. Being caught up in various activities that could have landed me in prison or in my early grave, i lost a lot of friends and missed a lot of things. one day, my best friend and i were walking around the streets at night, ended up being caught in the “wrong place, wrong time” situation. He was shot and i was severely beaten and injured. he died, but i survived…(unfortunately). It is what i thought then. After suffering a severe concussion and having my Achilles Tendons torn by knife blade, i was prescribed Oxycodone and Hydrocodone drugs aka Vicodin, Percoden, Percocet and Valium. suffering from emotional and physical pains i overused my prescriptions and went down a dark road of addiction. Of course, at first you never admit you have a problem, but when various health problems arise you have to face the ugly truth. To quickly wrap this up, i overdosed once in 2005 at the age of 13. young huh? Then, after sobering up, more issues arised in life that drove back down the same road. Which in common terms lead me to a RELAPSE, which caused me to have a AT DEATHS DOOR experience where in the hospital after a 2nd overdose, i hit the flat line, for 2 minutes and 34 seconds (so my doc says) you can be dead for up to 5 minutes before definite death, look it up if you don’t believe me. So basically I DIED. but by the grace of God the doctor was able to bring me back in time. and that was my Addiction Story. I call it “Ruin - Recovery - Relapse”.

Eminem had the courage to face his own demons…Relapse is his honest confession to the world.

Besides addiction, the dark themes of abuse are also mentioned. Not only mental abuse, but physical abuse. I have no idea if the physical abuse theme should be interpreted metaphorically or literally, but it gave me the chills. I felt unwell while reading the lyrics to Insane. To tell the truth, the song raised tears in my eyes. I was thinking about the numerous silent victims of incest. Child abuse needs to be stopped on a worldwide scale.

The introduction to Relapse, Dr West is nicely done. It then leads directly to the artist’s disturbed mind, opening on 3AM. The darkness of the theme is reinforced by dark instrumentals, piano notes are hammering into hell’s ballade. Violins insist on the dramatic side in which Eminem turns into a scary serial killer. You will never know what happened: either the pills created this madness or all the bloody crimes actually happened.
I still don’t like the accent- but I appreciate the lyrics and Eminem’s flow in the song. Efforts are put on the way of rapping-unfortunately spoilt by this strange accent in my opinion.

My Mom tells the story of addiction inside of Marshall Mathers’ family. Terrible story of a mom who makes an addict of her own son. Moms, take care yourselves and of your kids! Still don’t like the song, though.

Insane is probably the scariest song of the whole album. Its instrumentals will make many of you think of the Brain Damage song. The lyrics are…insane, well worked on. Em flows like crazy on this one…I’ll never know if his messing with our heads or telling the factual truth. Well done. I love this one despite its scary physical abuse background.

I won’t go into detail with Bagpipes from Baghdad, because it kinda wipes out the main theme. All I can say is that I found this song highly amusing and that I enjoyed the bagpipe sounds.

Stay Wide Awake is one valuable song for multiple reasons: the use of the instrumentals, the power of the words, Em’s stormy flow, I must say that it is excellent on this one!

Again, the scary themes of rape appear in Eminem’s album, but this time the artist slips into the skin of a rapist. Lyrically, the song is crazy. The instrumentals give a surreal impression to the listener.
Another song, maybe, is worth the listener’s attention : Déjà Vu

The expression, that comes from the French language, puts persons in “already seen before” situation. It is a quite painful expose of a family father struggling with his addiction and failing in stopping it. Embracing the face of death, waking up at the hospital, Marshall puts a lot of honesty in his narration.

I really value Underground. Lyrical creativity prevails in this one.
The last verse reveals to the world that the artist is ready to face the world, music critics as well.

During my journey into Marshall Mathers’ mind, I learnt a lot. I understood that, if you have the courage to face your demons, you will come out of this experience stronger than ever.
But it costs a lot. It won’t come to you spontaneously. Doing a public confession to the world costs even more.

After 4 near death experiences (left in a coma for 9 days, trying to commit suicide at Ronnie’s death, swallowing pills again at Infinite’s flop, history repeated itself on December 2007), Marshall Mathers is truly a survivor. He made me realize that we shouldn’t consider life as granted, but rather as God’s gift.

Marshall’s come back is a miracle in itself, if you consider all he went though and I am grateful for what I learnt from Relapse’s teachings.

Copyright© by Isabelle Esling
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