Eminem: Revival

Eminem Revival album cover - Front

Revival is the ninth studio album by Eminem. The album was released on December 15, 2017, through Aftermath Entertainment, Shady Records and Interscope Records.

The title ties in with two of Eminem’s albums—Relapse & Recovery. All three are a reference to his past and his return to the rap game.

Production for the album took place during 2016 to 2017 at various recording studios. In addition to Eminem himself, music production was handled by various record producers, including Rick Rubin, Fredwreck, Skylar Grey, Alex da Kid, and executive producer Dr. Dre.

Revival features guest appearances from artists Beyoncé, Phresher, Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys, X Ambassadors, Skylar Grey, Kehlani, and Pink.

Label: Shady Records/Aftermath/Interscope
Release date: 15 December 2017
Discs: 1

The album that started the future trend of surprise albums

The album release date was teased multiple times, including Eminem sharing a complete list of all the tracks featuring on his album via his Instagram account on December 5, 2017. He listed all 19 tracks and the featured artists, a move that he later deemed to be the main reason for albums lukewarm reception, as Revival received mixed criticism, with a lot of negativity stemming from even before it was released.

In an interview on his radio channel Shade 45 (on Sirius XM Radio) Eminem explained how Revival influenced him to start dropping surprise albums in the future:

“I feel like when an album is coming out, if I give people notice. They start seeing the track list and they know it’s coming, I feel like, my best shot to avoid it is just to drop it, instead of people thinking to themselves like ‘if he got this person on the album, I ain’t fucking with it.’ It gives everybody too much time to think about it and their expectations of what they think it should be, I will never meet that. So this is kind of theory I have based ever since Revival.”

— Eminem about the latest tendency of releasing surprise / unannounced albums

In a four-part video interview series with Sway Calloway he had this to say about it:

“When you go into an album, you can go into anything with the mindset of, ‘This is gonna suck.’ I feel like giving them no warning was the best thing to do. When the Revival track list came down the pipe, it was like overwhelmingly, ‘This shit is going to be trash.’ Nobody really wanted to be wrong about it. I’m not saying everybody, but a lot of people had already formed their opinion,”

— Eminem on one of the reasons why he believes Revival did not do as good

implying that many people have already decided Revival sucked ahead of time, off of the track list and who he featured on it alone, before even having a chance to listen to any of the music.

Revival album release tease

It all started on October 25, 2017, when Paul Rosenberg posted a photo to Instagram of Yelawolf’s Trial by Fire. In the background of the photo, there is a billboard ad promoting a drug called “Revival”. Suspicion was aroused when fans noticed that the ‘E’ in “Revival” was reversed, similar to Eminem’s previous logos.

Track listing – Eminem: Revival

1.“Walk on Water” (featuring Beyoncé)Marshall Mathers, Holly Hafermann, Beyoncé KnowlesRick Rubin, Skylar Grey[a]5:04
2.“Believe”Mathers, Luis Resto, Mark Batson, Mike StrangeEminem, Luis Resto[b], Mr. Porter[b]5:15
3.“Chloraseptic” (featuring Phresher)Mathers, Denaun Porter, Erick Sermon, Parrish SmithMr. Porter5:01
4.“Untouchable”Mathers, Emile Haynie, Mark Batson, Porter, Tommy Chong, Gaye Delorme, Richard Marin, Duval Clear, Andre Brown, Tyrone Kelsie, Eric McIntoshEminem, Mark Batson, Emile Haynie, Mr. Porter6:10
5.“River” (featuring Ed Sheeran)Mathers, Emile Haynie, Ed SheeranEmile Haynie3:41
6.“Remind Me” (Intro)Andre Young, Theron Feemster, Trevor Lawrence, Jr.Dr. Dre, Feemster, Lawrence, Jr.0:26
7.“Remind Me”Mathers, Jake Richards, Allan Sachs, Jesse Bonds Weaver, Jr., Matt Dike, Luther Rabb, James Walters, Marvin YoungRick Rubin3:45
8.“Revival” (Interlude)Mathers, Alicia Lemke, Bryan Frizel, Aaron Kleinstub, Regina SpektorFrequency, Aalias0:51
9.“Like Home” (featuring Alicia Keys)Mathers, Myles Moraites, Hafermann, A. Jackson, Justin Smith, Paul Rosenberg, Resto, Alicia Augello-CookJust Blaze, Eminem[a]4:05
10.“Bad Husband” (featuring X Ambassadors)Mathers, Alexander Grant, Resto, Sam HarrisAlex da Kid, Eminem[a]4:47
11.“Tragic Endings” (featuring Skylar Grey)Mathers, Hafermann, GrantAlex da Kid4:12
12.“Framed”Mathers, Farid Nassar, David John Byron, Kenneth William HensleyFredwreck, Eminem[a]4:13
13.“Nowhere Fast” (featuring Kehlani)Mathers, Mark Batson, Antonina Armato, Timothy James Price, Thomas Armato SturgesRock Mafia, Hit-Boy4:24
14.“Heat”Mathers, Darryl McDaniels, Joseph Simmons, Larry Smith, Adam Horovitz, RubinRick Rubin4:10
15.“Offended”Mathers, Ray Fraser, Charles Bradley, Thomas Brenneck, David Guy, Leon MichelsIlla da Producer, Eminem[a]5:20
16.“Need Me” (featuring P!nk)Mathers, Hafermann, Jon Ingoldsby, GrantAlex da Kid4:25
17.“In Your Head”Mathers, Dolores O’Riordan, Marc ShemerScram Jones3:02
18.“Castle”Mathers, Khalil Abdul-Rahman, Pranam Injeti, Erik Alcock, Liz RodriguesDJ Khalil4:14
19.“Arose”Mathers, Barry White, Amanda McBroomRick Rubin4:34
Total length:77:39
  • Track notes:
  • ^[a] signifies a co-producer
  • ^[b] signifies an additional producer
  • “Remind Me” features backing vocals by Mr. Porter.
  • “Revival (Interlude)” features vocals by Alice and the Glass Lake.
  • “Offended” features vocals by Kent Jones.
  • “Castle” features vocals by Liz Rodrigues.

Singles and music videos

The album’s lead single, “Walk on Water“, featuring Beyoncé, was released on November 10, 2017, a whole month before the official drop, while “Untouchable” was released as a promotional single a week prior to the album’s release. The album issued several more singles, including “River“, featuring Ed Sheeran, “Nowhere Fast“, featuring Kehlani, and “Remind Me“. A music video for “Framed“, inspired by 1980s horror films, was also released.

“Walk on Water”

Quote: “Bitch, I wrote Stan”

Single (music video)
Released: 2017


Single (music video)
Released: 2017

“Nowhere Fast”

Single (music video)
Released: 2018

“Remind Me”

Single (audio only)
Released: 2018


Promotional single (audio only)
Released: 2017


(music video)

Album reveal

On December 7, 2017, the Revival album cover was revealed and projected onto a Detroit building. That night, the song “Untouchable” was released as a promotional single and a pre-order was set up on iTunes.

Eminem Revival - Album reveal
Photo © by Camera Jesus

Album release announcements

Eminem: https://www.instagram.com/p/BcVDysNlq-f/
Paul Rosenberg: https://www.instagram.com/p/BcVKp7aH1TM/

Album Cover – Eminem: Revival

Eminem addressed Revival’s album cover in an interview with Michel Martin of NPR:

The cover is me with my head down, because as much as I love our country, we got shit that we gotta work on. We got shit that we gotta get better at. It’s kinda like, I love our country; I’m upset with it right now.

— Eminem for NPR

Eminem’s “new” beard is also featured in the album art, perhaps a subtle hint at his new ‘persona’, which became a topic of much discussion in 2017.

Revival – Front cover

The album cover features the American flag with Eminem “facepalming” in displeasure behind it.

Eminem Revival album cover - Front

The American flag featured appears reversed to onlookers. Unlike an upside down flag, there is no symbolic significance to this that we know of. While Eminem has produced many political songs throughout his career (White America, Square Dance, We as Americans, Mosh, Campaign Speech…), the flag and his disapproving stature embody his newfound protest against the Trump administration, current American government and the overall injustice he feels present in America.

Revival – Back cover

Eminem Revival album cover - Back

The back cover features shirtless Eminem standing in protest with arms crossed behind his back, with an image of American flag projected over his body and spilling over the background.

Revival – CD cover

Eminem Revival CD cover

CD booklet (Revival)

no image placeholder

Vinyl (Revival)

Revival fan art

Eminem Revival album cover - Fan art
Revival fan cover created by u/ranf0rd (Reddit)
Eminem Revival album cover - Fan art
Revival fan cover created by cbakesmusic

What do critics have to say about Eminem’s Revival?

Upon release, Revival, overall, polarized music critics, as many were divided over its perceived lack of focus, lyrics, heavy sampling of rock music in the production, and the abundance of pop artists for guest appearances.

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 50, based on 24 reviews, indicating “mixed or average” reviews.

Don Needham of The Guardian criticized the album’s production and focus, stating that “If Eminem thinks his verbal box of tricks can overcome the weakness of any backing track, his recent albums have demonstrated otherwise.”

In a positive review, Andy Gill of The Independent complimented the album’s lyrical themes: “But ultimately, it’s all about Eminem himself, and nowhere more dynamically than in the berserk self-assessment “Offended”, where he asserts, amongst other things, that if the time he spent writing were taken into account, he’d be a minimum-wage slave – a faintly ludicrous claim, but immediately backed up by a bravura extended burst of rapid-rap babble that both explains and exemplifies his skills, and leaves one wondering not just how long it took to write, but how on earth he manages to pronounce such a polysyllabic torrent so perfectly.”

Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph stated that Revival “represents Eminem on top form, which is to say unstoppable, unbeatable yet often indefensible.”

The Irish Times concluded that Revival is “mildly more admirable than previous outings but no more enjoyable. A chance to bust out of the slump has passed Eminem by. It just might never happen for him.”

In a mixed review, Jon Caramanica of The New York Times remarked that while the album is “probably the best of his recent albums”, he criticized Eminem’s apparent lack of awareness to the evolution of hip hop’s sound in general, arguing that he is too “beholden to his own aesthetic.”

In a negative review, Consequence of Sound gave the album an “F” rating, calling the album “ugly, arthritic, and pleasureless” and “a disaster”.

Comparing Revival to Eminem’s previous bodies of work, Matthew Ismael Ruiz of Pitchfork stated that “Musically, Revival is no different, chock full of piano ballads and pop-star features that echo the most cynically commercial corners of his catalog. The shock value comes not from the album’s overwhelmingly bland hooks or cringe-worthy humor (of which there is plenty), but from the moments where his growth as a human is most apparent”, concluding that “Revival is another late-career album that does little for his legacy.”

Writing for Vice, Robert Christgau found the album “much cleverer than lemmings claim, bluntly and intelligently political too, but so received in its cartoon misogyny and pop grandeur you know he felt irrelevance bearing down even before #MeToo killed this album on the vine”. He singled out “Untouchable”, “Chloraseptic”, and “Like Home” as highlights.

Trent Clark from HipHopDX wrote that “Eminem’s dedication to wrecking mics like Robert Mueller can never be questioned but the production choices still remain an enigma. When he’s not bathing in lamely visible rock samples like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” or The Cranberries’ “Zombie” (on “Remind Me” or “In Your Head” respectively), he’s mostly square pegging his intensified lyrics on mechanical slabs of assembly line pop hybrids.” He singled out “Framed” and “Castle” as highlights: “it’s largely the retreads of past glory where he hits his stride the hardest. On the hypnotically-produced “Framed,” Marshall dons the hockey mask for old times sake and pulls up off homicidal fantasies that for better or worse, feature the album’s most in-pocket rhyme moment. And when he plunges into his drug-altered psyche to speak on his greatest love — his daughter Haile Jade — the ever-reliable DJ Khalil steps up to the plate on “Castle” with a darkened soundbed of macabre guitars and deathly drum marches that feature the album’s most vintage Eminem moment.”

Mitch Findlay from HotNewHipHop wrote a similar critics and said: “Revival is, by far, Eminem’s most pop-friendly album to date. While previous albums merely flirted with the sound, Revival has bought a ring and proposed to it. Therefore, if you’re somebody who finds no pleasure in the production of “pop-rap,” you’ll find no solace here.” He singled out “Framed,” “Castle” and “Arose” as highlights, calling the latter two are “among Revival’s strongest tracks. Conceptually and lyrically, the closing pair find Eminem in excellent form, and longtime fans will no doubt cite these two as album highlights.”

About the album reaction, Eminem said:

“I think there’s things to be taken away from this album and the reaction to it. Were there too many songs? Were there too many features? There were certain songs like “Tragic Endings” and “Need Me” where I felt like lyrically they would give the listener a second to breathe. I spend a lot of time writing shit that I think nobody ever gets.

— Eminem

Later he said:

“When the Revival tracklist came down the pipe, it was like overwhelmingly, ‘This shit is going to be trash.’ Nobody really wanted to be wrong about it. I’m not saying everybody, but a lot of people had already formed their opinion.”

— Eminem

He also stated, upon Kamikaze release, that he does not regret making Revival, despite the somewhat negative reception:

I’m good with Revival. Fuck it. Because I couldn’t have made this album [Kamikaze] without it.”

— Eminem