If Eminem’s 2009 album Relapse was any indication, Marshall Mathers was still working to exorcise his demons. Long plagued by depression and an addiction to painkillers, Em avoided pushing past his problems, instead hiding behind foolish accents, soaking his lyrics in a bath of pop culture and making references to his drug addictions to painkillers while still working through them.
On his seventh album, Recovery, Em finally sees himself for the way he was and rises above his issues like a phoenix from the ashes. Throughout this darkly shaded album, the Detroit emcee consistently acknowledges that Relapse was far from his best work, using a spread of beats from Just Blaze, Boi1da and DJ Khalil as a background for his lyrical 12-step program. Em nimbly darts his way through tales of remorse, acceptance and forgiveness as if each track is its own therapy session, doting on his afflictions with drugs, suicidal thoughts and depression brought on by the death of his best friend Proof.
Consider it an album where Eminem uses lyricism as his own personal 12-step program. Here, we take a look at the lyrics of Recovery and break them down according to the 12-step program of Narcotics Anonymous, a process that Em may or may not have known he followed.
NEXT PAGE: RECOVERY STEPS 1-3
1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
Some of Recovery’s most hard-hitting moments are when Em is at his most vulnerable, addressing just how deep a hole he had dug for himself. The album is packed with “rock bottom” moments, most notably on “Going Through Changes,” where he describes waking up in a hospital after an overdose.
2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
For Em, that higher power takes a literal sense on the track “Cinderella Man,” where he knowingly raps, “Shit I ain’t even supposed to be here by the grace of God / By the skin of my teeth and the hair on my nuts I skated by.” But he also sees inspiration in his daughters on much of the album, rapping, “Hailie this one is for you, Whitney and Alaina, too,” on “Going Through Changes.”
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Though he doesn’t turn directly to God, he admits to making his decision to turn his life around. “It was my decision to get clean, I did it for me / Admittedly, I probably did it subliminally for you,” he confesses on “Not Afraid.”
NEXT PAGE: RECOVERY STEPS 4-6
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
“Going Through Changes” fits the script, bravely facing his issues. “When inside, I’m dying, I am finally realizing I need help,” he raps. “I can’t do it by myself, too weak, two weeks I’ve been having ups and downs.”
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