Picks and Pans Review: Eminem

updated 06/01/2009 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/01/2009 01:00AM

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CRITIC'S CHOICE

RAP
Clearly, the pressure was on Eminem to deliver his first studio album since 2004's multiplatinum Encore. "Do you know how many people lost their jobs because of your f------ vacation?" asks a record exec on one skit. But Slim Shady hasn't been kicking back on a private island. He's been battling some serious demons, namely an addiction to prescription pills that he raps about throughout Relapse. "I fall in bed with a bottle of meds and a Heath Ledger bobble head," he rhymes on the witty, whimsical "My Mom." ("My mom loved valium and lots of drugs," the chorus goes.) Em takes a more sobering approach on the confessional "Déjà Vu," breaking down an overdose in gripping detail. Even more chilling are tales of serial killers ("3 a.m.") and child-molesting stepfathers ("Insane"), with Dr. Dre back supplying the menacing beats.

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