So, the “original” version of Eminem’s “Chloraseptic” from his disappointing return album Revival has landed and it’s just as disappointing as the album was. The promised 2 Chainz verse that caused a minor kerfuffle when the tracklist released without it was restored — and it’s the best part of the song.
However, the main attraction for many was the brand new Eminem verse, and that’s where the whole exercise more or less falls apart. The final third of the song features a typically wordy, supremely technical Eminem addressing Revival‘s less than enthusiastic critical reception by doing every single thing that originally drew the criticism in the first place. There are collections of bars with stacked, cascading rhyme patterns that don’t actually mean anything, more casual misogyny and sophomoric, shock-jock “humor,” and more of the classic, thin-skinned schoolyard bully Eminem sensitivity that allows him to dish out abuse while feeling put upon by the entire entertainment criticism industry.
Here’s the problem with that: At 40-plus-years-old, that won’t work anymore. If every single criticism of your new album basically boils down to a lack of emotional and artistic growth, doubling down on it doesn’t prove you right, it just makes you look childish and incapable of seeing one simple truth. Criticism isn’t bullying; when journalists point out the shortcomings of a work, it’s not to make the artist feel bad, it’s to get them to address the flaws and come back better the next time.