Recovery featured more introspective and emotional content than its predecessor and the theme of the album revolved around his positive changes, anxiety, and emotional drives. To promote it, Eminem performed the album's songs on televised shows, at award ceremonies, musical events and also headed The Recovery Tour.
Eminem first planned the release of Relapse 2 as a sequel to Relapse
Due to Eminem recording far more material than he could use for one album, he felt that he had to offer his fans more music. After staying on hiatus for so long, fellow D12 member Swift confirmed that Eminem had in fact planned to put out two albums that year, following with Relapse 2 in late 2009. According to Angela Yee's Shade 45 interview with Eminem on April 23, 2009, Relapse 2 was to be a continuation of Relapse. During the interview, Eminem confirmed: "It's extremely close to being finished, it just depends on how many songs I want to put on it." Eminem also explained that the album was more "emotionally driven" than Relapse, which was, as he explains, "[just] rap records". Guest appearances were expected to come from the likes of Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, D12, Royce da 5'9",Lloyd Banks and Cashis. The album was subsequently pushed back for an early 2010 release, so Eminem decided to re-release Relapse as Relapse: Refill, which includes a bonus disc featuring seven new tracks, including the single "Forever" (originally on More Than a Game soundtrack) and "Taking My Ball" (released with DJ Hero), as well as five previously unreleased tracks. During the recording process of the album, Eminem stated that "The new tracks started to sound very different than the tracks I originally intended to be on Relapse 2, but I still want the other stuff [Relapse: Refill] to be heard". On its re-release, Eminem stated: "I want to deliver more material for the fans this year like I originally planned. Hopefully these tracks on The Refill will tide the fans over until we put out Relapse 2 next year."
On April 13, 2010, Eminem tweeted "There is no Relapse 2", thus announcing that the album had been scrapped in favour of his new project Recovery. While recording Relapse 2 and witnessing the mixed reaction of its predecessor among fans and critics alike, Eminem decided to throw away most of the recorded material and started from scratch. The result appeared to be more of an individual project that deserved its own name, other than a continuation of Relapse. Eminem said: "I had originally planned for Relapse 2 to come out last year. But as I kept recording and working with new producers, the idea of a sequel to Relapse started to make less and less sense to me, and I wanted to make a completely new album. The music on Recovery came out very different from Relapse, and I think it deserves its own title."
The track 'Insult to Injury' would have been the leading track according to The Alchemist the producer of the track. 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' featuring D12 was a track that leaked that was recorded around early 2010 and style was more close to Recovery than Relapse. Cocaine featuring Jazmine Sullivan also leaked but it wasn't confirmed if it was for Relapse 2 or Recovery also recorded in 2010. 'Nut Up' was a leaked song from when Eminem was recording in Hawaii. 'Things Get Worse' was originally recorded in 2009 and was a solo track before Eminem and B.o.B collaborated for B.o.B's Greatest Hits album. On the track "Zeus" from the album Music to Be Murdered By: Side B, Eminem apologizes to Rihanna over a leaked version of 'Things Get Worse' in which he sided with Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty to felony assault involving her in 2009. A song of unknown title featuring 50 Cent and two songs led by Mr. Porter was also expected.
All the songs from Relapse: Refill were going to be part of Relapse 2. The songs "On Fire", "So Bad" and "Ridaz" from Recovery were recorded in the same sessions in Hawaii which lead to speculation that they could have been intended for Relapse 2. Although after the release of Relapse: Refill it is possible that Eminem had already moved on to Recovery.
Themes and composition
"Not Afraid" (0:24)
A 23-second sample of the song with the chorus, in which a choir assists Eminem and heavy layering is used.
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The album was dedicated "To anyone who's in a dark place tryin' to get out. Keep your head up... It does get better!" Eminem told Billboard that he was in "full-blown addiction" while recording Encore. He felt happier and "first got sober" during the recording of Relapse, having overcome his addiction. While recording Relapse, he admitted that he had not been "paying attention to what the average listener might like or not like." Just Blaze, the first producer of the album said, "[Eminem] already knew what sort of mistakes he has made with the previous album and where he wanted to go from there." Thus, Recovery was more "emotionally driven" than Relapse, which was, as he explains, "[just] rap records." In contrast to Eminem's previous work, the album features no skits, and downplays his Slim Shady alter ego.
The album's artwork featured two covers: one with Eminem walking down a country road and another with him sitting in a transparent living room in the middle of Detroit with the Renaissance Center in the background. The album's liner featured pictures of Eminem such as a picture of him praying and him posing without a shirt on.
The record opens with "Cold Wind Blows" in which Eminem discusses his "doomed love for his ex-wife" and about "settling scores with rival celebs." In "Talkin' 2 Myself", he states the harm caused to his image with lyrics such as: "Encore' I was on drugs, 'Relapse' I was flushing them out." "On Fire" is about "a murder-and-dismemberment fantasy" and "Won't Back Down", which featured Pink, was a rap rock song. The singing to "W.T.P." ("White-Trash Party") is considered similar to his early records with lighter and simple rhythmic frame. "Going Through Changes", which samples Black Sabbath's "Changes", depicts Eminem's sorrow and shows himself trapped within fame. "Not Afraid", a mid-tempo song, focuses on personal changes in Eminem, including an end to drug abuse, feuds and violence.
Idolator commented that the song was based on the "dark days Eminem has lived through," and "he seems to be at peace with himself now." A writer for MuchMusic website noted that Eminem chose to use his Marshall Mathers ego for the song, rather than Slim Shady.
"No Love" features Lil Wayne as a hype man. Eminem's verses follow Lil Wayne, and according to Sam Wolfson of NME were "the best verses of his career." The meaning of "Space Bound" is deemed ambiguous and according to Sasha Grey who is featured in its video, the meaning can be interpreted "in many ways." Jim Jonsin of MTV spoke about Eminem's two egos seen in the video and compared it to Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" video while Grey believed that the alternate Eminem who appears in the car is his subconscious.
"Cinderella Man" has a "festive beat" and "the template of every album since Encore (2004)," with many minor keys and traces of post-grunge rock. "25 to Life" shows his discomfiture and depicts that the "selfish bitch" pulling him back "these days is rap itself." Despite the lyrics being tighter throughout the album, "So Bad" and "Almost Famous" view the other side of Slim Shady; his alter ego. The hip-hop ballad "Love the Way You Lie", which features Rihanna, describes a couple's refusal to separate despite having an abusive relationship. Rihanna sings the chorus, backed by an electric guitar and a piano, while acoustic guitar, violin and drums accompany Eminem's verses. Rihanna's singing expresses "grief and regret" throughout the song.
Eminem promoted the album throughout its initial release, doing interviews for brands like Red Bull. A commercial for Recovery premiered during Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals. It featured Vince Offer doing a parody of his Slap Chop commercials. There was a Call of Duty: Black Ops ad underscored by "Won't Back Down"; the song also appeared in the game as an easter egg.
The second single was released on August 9, 2010, titled "Love the Way You Lie", which featured Rihanna. The song debuted at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 and later peaked number one. The song gave Eminem his fourth US Billboard Hot 100 number one and Rihanna her seventh. It also claimed the top spot on over 20 other charts worldwide. "Love the Way You Lie" went on to be number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 for seven consecutive weeks and is certified Diamond by RIAA and has sold more than 6 million in US. The song became Eminem's best-selling single of all time, selling 9.3 million copies worldwide.Joseph Kahn directed the music video which premiered on August 5, 2010. The video starred Dominic Monaghan and Megan Fox. Michael Menachem from Billboard commented that "Rihanna's chorus is exquisitely melodic and surprisingly hopeful, complementing the turmoil of Em's dark, introspective rant." The song was performed at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and was voted the best performer of the ceremony in an MTV poll, earning 34 percent of votes.
"No Love", which features American rapper Lil Wayne, was the third single released on October 5, 2010. "No Love" featured sample of "What Is Love" by Haddaway, which was done by producer Just Blaze. The song peaked number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the charts for 20 weeks. The music video, directed by Chris Robinson, premiered on September 30 via Vevo and various MTV networks. The video was about a young school boy who was bullied but had the urge to stand up after being motivated by listening to songs by Eminem and Lil Wayne. They performed "No Love" on Saturday Night Live on December 18, 2010.
"Space Bound" was released as the fourth and final single from the album on March 18, 2011. English songwriter Steve McEwan provided additional vocals in the chorus of the song. The single did not enter US Billboard Hot 100, however was certified Gold in United States on February 9, 2012. The music video for "Space Bound" was shot in February 2011 by Joseph Kahn. The uncensored music video was released on June 24, 2011, at 5 PM EST on iTunes only and the official video then premiered on Vevo on June 27 at 3 AM EST. The porn stars actress Sasha Grey and Eminem in a relationship which ends violently; the video caused controversy for a bloody scene in which Eminem shoots himself. The video was slammed by British anti-violence campaigners. Anti-violence group, Mothers Against Violence, told the Daily Mirror, "It's all about the money with these videos. Eminem isn't thinking about the families affected."
Songs "25 to Life", "Won't Back Down", "Talkin' 2 Myself", and "Cold Wind Blows" also debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 without release as singles.
On February 28, 2018, "Cinderella Man" and "Won’t Back Down" were certified Platinum in the United States, while "Cold Wind Blows", "25 to Life" and "Talkin’ 2 Myself" were certified Gold.
Recovery was released to generally favorable reviews, with most critics praising the lyrical themes and Eminem's performance. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 63, based on 28 reviews.AllMusic's David Jeffries praised Eminem's performance as potent and energetic, and said that the album "may be flawed ... but he hasn't sounded this unfiltered and proud since The Marshall Mathers LP".Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph commended him for addressing more mature, introspective subject matter and successfully "framing his misogyny, homophobia and all-round bigotry with an undeniable sense of empathy and humanity."Jody Rosen, writing in Rolling Stone, called it Eminem's "most casual-sounding album in years" and said that he "sounds content to be rap's wittiest head case."
Sam Wolfson of NME called him "self aware, technically advanced, intelligent, able to go at speeds other than full throttle." Sean O'Neal of The A.V. Club stated that his lively raps make up for the "endless atonement metaphors" that occasionally weigh down the album.Kitty Empire, writing in The Observer, said that it is "better than average" as a "latterday Eminem album" that shows, "in bursts, Eminem's health is very nearly rude."MSN Music's Robert Christgau said that, although the cleverness "varies" and the themes are "rarely" upheld by his "long-recessive sense of play", the album is a comeback "for Eminem, not Slim Shady—and for Marshall at his most martial. His most confessional as well."
In a mixed review, Jon Caramanica of The New York Times regarded Eminem as "frustratingly limited in his topical range" and called Recovery "the most insular of all his releases." Andy Gill of The Independent commented that "there's nothing here quite as witty or engaging as" on his previous work. In a largely negative review, Pitchfork's Jayson Greene perceived a lack of lyrical depth and wrote "for the first time in his career, he actually sounds clumsy."Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot criticized the writing, and said that it lacks hooks and fun: "The subversive humor is long gone, and his cultural references ... remain dated."Slant Magazine's M. T. Richards also found Eminem's pop culture references "inane" and called the album's material "unsurprisingly hollow" with punchlines that "rarely resonate."Los Angeles Times writer Jeff Weiss found his rhyme schemes "dazzling" and wordplay "clever", but panned its production as "monochromatic and monotonous."The Guardian's Paul MacInnes said that the music lacks consistency because of a "piecemeal approach to production" and "fashionable soft-rock samples."
Recovery was ranked 93rd on the Billboard Top 200 Albums of All Time.
The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 741,000 copies. It became Eminem's sixth album to debut at number one in the United States. In its second week of release it remained at number-one and sold 313,000 copies. It also entered at number one on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Rap Albums chart. In its ninth week of release the album remained at number one for its seventh non-consecutive week and sold 116,000 copies. By March 2011, the album was number one on the all-time list of albums with the most digital sales, with over 922,000 copies digitally sold at the time. As of July 2011, the album broke the digital record and became the first album to sell one million digital copies. It held the record for most digital albums sold, but was later outsold by Adele's 21 album. On August 18, 2011, the album was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in shipments and sales. As of November 13, 2013, the album has sold 4,513,000 copies in the United States and by August 6, 2018, the album hit nearly 4,830,000. Since its United States release, the album spent a total of 27 weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, which is more than any other hip-hop album since 2003. It spent seven weeks at number one in both the US & UK amongst other nations.
The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, selling 140,000 copies in its first week in the United Kingdom. In Canada, the album sold 85,000 copies in its first week and debuted at number one on Canada's Albums Chart. The album spent six consecutive weeks at number one, and retook the top spot after one week at number two. As of August 18, 2010, the album has sold 277,000 copies in Canada. In Japan, Oricon recorded a debut of number six with 20,678 units sold. It also went gold in its first week in New Zealand and Australia, debuting at number one in both countries. The album has since sold over 210,000 copies in Australia, certifying it triple platinum.
By the end of its release year, Recovery had sold over 5.7 million copies worldwide. It was one of the best-selling album of 2010 in the United States with 3.4 million copies, and it had sold 2.3 million copies in other territories for a total of 5.7 million copies worldwide by December 2010. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, it was also the best-selling album of 2010 worldwide. The album was the best-selling album in Canada in 2010 selling 435,000 copies; more than double the album in second place.Recovery was the third best-selling album of 2010 in Australia. Since its release in 2010, the album has sold approximately 7 million copies worldwide.
^"Czech Albums – Top 100". ČNS IFPI. Note: On the chart page, select 201025 on the field besides the word "Zobrazit", and then click over the word to retrieve the correct chart data. Retrieved August 13, 2010.