Label: Aftermath, Shady, Interscope

This is the album Eminem fans have been waiting on for nearly a decade. Ever since 2004's Encore, Eminem hasn't been himself. First he was on drugs, then he was flushing them out. Though all of his albums featured distinct charms and highlights, it never felt like the same old Marshall. But the sequel to his magnum opus is as close to a return to form that any fan could reasonably hope for.

Em has his mojo back, and it feels good to hear him on a rampage again. In some ways he hasn't matured at all (as evidenced by a strange preponderance of silly homophobia.) Yet in other ways, he has. He finally forgives his mother, something that seemed inconceivable years ago. The rest of the time, he's spewing rhymes that are so damn complicated that even when we read the lyrics we can't keep up. Some of the credit for the album's creative success must go to Rick Rubin, who's been helping to revitalize acts for several years now. It's not clear what, exactly, Rubin told Em that got him back in his zone, but whatever it was, it worked. —Insanul Ahmed