Rapper Eminem’s first new album in 5 years, Relapse, explores his relapse and attempts to escape the trap of drug addiction after treatment at a drug rehabilitation center.
On the subject of his treatment, Eminem explained: “When I landed myself in rehab in 2005 I felt like I wanted to reassess everything. I remember sitting in rehab thinking, ‘Is this what it comes to, really?’.
“I was like Bugs Bunny in rehab, Bugs Bunny walking in the room. The second you walk in the room…
IN late December 2007 a depressed, writer’s-blocked, pill-popping, opiate-addicted Marshall Mathers, better known as the multimilllion-selling rapper Eminem, overdosed on some new blue pills someone gave him — they were methadone — and collapsed on his bathroom floor. Public statements covered up the reason for his emergency hospitalization and detox, claiming the problem was pneumonia. A month later Mr. Mathers had ramped up his habit again.
But the overdose scared him. Early last year he hospitalized himself, went through rehab and started the full 12-step program of a recovering addict, complete with meetings, a sponsor and a therapist. Mr. Mathers, 36, says he has stayed sober since April 20, 2008.
Far from concealing his addiction battle, he’s making it the center of his comeback. The cover of “Relapse” (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope), the first new Eminem album since 2004, builds his face out of pills, and in some songs he raps, as directly as a rhymer can, about how drugs nearly destroyed him.
When it came time for wisecracking tough-guy rapper Eminem to kick his addictions to the curb, he looked to an unlikely source for help — music legend Elton John. “I came home from the hospital the second time and I realized that I was giving up drugs forever,” Eminem reveals in the June/July issue of Vibe. “I reached out to Elton ’cause I knew he had a problem before.”
He was like, ‘Don’t do it. Do not do it,’” he recalls. “But I didn’t want to disappoint anybody. He talked me out of doing it. He was like, ‘I’m telling you you’re gonna get over there and you’re gonna wanna use. Don’t do it, it’s too early. You don’t even have enough clean time under your belt.’”
And Elton wasn’t just there to advise on the big things; he took an active interest in Em’s sobriety. “He called a lot. A few times a week,” says Eminem. “
With its blistering glimpse into his struggles with addiction and sobriety, depression and ennui, the album marks a gritty return for an artist who slipped off the public scene four years ago amid a cloud of speculation. The singsong choruses of “Insane,” “My Mom” and “Déjà Vu” are like taunts in the face of the harsh reality — taunts at his own weaknesses, perhaps — with the intensity broken by the jokey skits and bouncy tracks like “Old Time’s Sake.”
Photo from March, 2009 press release