When Eminem started dropping politics-laden cyphers, the clock began ticking towards "revival" -- both the album and a spiritual one for the rapper. The Detroit native never strayed far from his combative roots, but he did stray far from creating his own music for a couple years, begging the question of whether or not Marshall Mathers was done. Fear not, rap aficionados -- the living legend is back, and he's still at the top of his game.

About the album

"Revival" is Eminem's ninth studio album. With executive producers Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin in the house, the record was released just ahead of the holiday season, on December 15, 2017.

Eminem spent over a year recording "Revival," beginning the process in 2016. Following the release of "The Marshall Mathers LP 2," "Revival" marks the first studio release from the rapper in over four years. There was no time left for him to pull any punches. He made sure that when he shot back, he wouldn't miss.

Witness the 'Revival'

Something was clearly percolating when Eminem went on to the BET Awards and unleashed a diatribe directed at Donald Trump. Listeners didn't know what was happening behind the scenes. The rapper was cooking up his comeback album.

The first song listeners heard was "Walk on Water," a collaboration with Beyonce. The chorus is beautifully sung, but in a lot of ways, it doesn't have the same feel as an Eminem track.

The melody is softer and much less abrasive. Being in his 40s really seems to be tempering the rapper in terms of steering clear of some of his bad habits. Some of his bad habits are still evident, though, such as his unnecessary use of the "r-word." It's 2017, Eminem. Time to drop that from your vocabulary.

The rest of the album reeks of introspection.

He continues by asking himself if people still "Believe" in him the way they once did. The theme pops up again and again on "Revival." In "Bad Husband," Eminem laments how he can't be the spouse he needs to be, even if he can be a good man and father. "Need Me" featuring Pink also has an obvious emotional component.

At the same time, Eminem isn't afraid to be his crass self.

He's practically screaming bloody murder on "Framed." He gets rowdy on "Heat" and paints an entire canvas on the closer, "Arose." It's the Eminem many of his fans came to hear.

But they also came for the politics -- Em doesn't hold back there, either. "Untouchable" quickly delves into race relations in the United States. "Like Home" compares Donald Trump to one Adolf Hitler. Additionally, there were jabs mixed in throughout "Revival." In case it wasn't obvious, Eminem does not like Donald Trump.

Features and samples

Skylar Grey and Pink are two artists who have collaborated with Eminem in the past, so their appearances on "Revival" were not a major surprise. But there were plenty of other interesting collaborators, chief among them, Alicia Keys (who is on "Like Home") and Ed Sheeran.

"River" is one of the buzzier songs from "Revival." Ed Sheeran has been no stranger to diving into the rap genre, but he's no match for Eminem. But the duo actually play off each other quite well, telling a story much in the same vein of "Stan" without ever crossing the line.

The samples are interesting as well. "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" is an obvious one in "Remind Me." "Heat" has samples all over the place. There's even a "Zombie" interpolation in "In Your Head." The samples aren't as iconic as previous Eminem albums, but they still work.

Final thoughts

Throughout "Revival," Eminem is pleading for relevance. He doesn't need to. The rapper has always been relevant, whether he was bucking the system or finding ways to connect to the marginalized youth.

Now, he matters more than ever before. His politics have always been an integral part of his voice. The only difference is that he doesn't have to worry about polarizing his fans -- we're already there.

Best Song: "Bad Husband" (feat. X Ambassadors) gets at the heart of Eminem's struggles.

Worst Song: "Nowhere Fast" (feat. Kehlani) doesn't have the same fire.

Rating: A-