Eminem (Aftermath)

Four years after the forgettable Encore, Eminem returned in October 2008 – in bookstores, with an autobiography high on production value and rather lower in literary value.

Nine months later comes album number six, which picks up where he left off a little too closely for comfort.

The title of Relapse is appropriate not so much for its lyrical nods to Eminem’s addiction to prescription painkillers, but for its blatant attempt to recall the rapper’s commercial peak.

Not only is Relapse produced by Dr Dre, behind his breakthrough albums, but it finds Eminem mining the same lyrical themes: himself, his mates and his long-suffering mother.

He’s been here before, and better.

The beats are fine, but the jokes, covering everyone from Christopher Reeve to Britney Spears, are rotten, and the delivery no longer packs the punch it once did.

It’ll sell, but a new idea or two would have been nice.

What took him so long?