Yesterday, the official tracklisting for Eminem’s upcoming 6th studio album, entitled Recovery (and set for release June 22nd), leaked onto the internets, and it most definitely sent the message boards into a frenzy.

A few months back, Just Blaze, one of the producers for the album, and Eminem himself, touted Recovery as a new beginning for the legendary Detroit emcee, and unlike anything he’d ever done. Of course, I simply interpreted that as “less serial killing and hotter beats,” respectively.

Well, I was almost right; I forgot about “collaborations with pop divas.”

 Recovery will feature not one, but two collabos with two of the biggest female pop stars around, Rihanna and Pink, as well as yet another Lil Wayne collaboration and vocal contributions from newcomer Kobe. As previously mentioned, Recovery will mark Em’s first foray into working largely with producers from outside of his camp as well, enlisting the help of Just Blaze, Boi-1da, Jim Jonsin, and Mobb Deep’s Havoc. And Dr. Dre’ll probably have a couple beats too, I guess. You can check out the tracklisting for Recovery below.

Additionally, the cover art for Recovery was also released earlier this week. Ala The Marshall Mathers LP, Recovery will have two album covers; one features Slim Shady with his back to us, walking alone along a desolate, seemingly-endless highway, clearly alluding to a painful road to recovery that he’s still in the process of following. The second, and slightly more cryptic cover features Slim lounging in a glass room in the heart of downtown Detroit, referring to the lack of privacy that comes with superstardom.

Response to the tracklisting for Recovery has been mixed, to say the least. Some faceless, anonymous web surfers expressed disappointment that there would be no 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Obie Trice, and/or D12 collaborations (as if the inclusion of these artists into basically every single Eminem album before this one wasn’t enough), while others harbored concern for the album’s stylistic direction, pointing to the aforementioned, decidedly unexpected collabos as proof that Eminem may be going “pop.”

Of course, this sentiment is absurd.

How can anyone consider an artist who literally sold more albums than anybody else this past decade, and put out two diamond albums (The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show have each sold 10 million copies) in a row, to be anything but pop? Upon release in 2000, The Marshall Mathers LP became the fastest-selling album (Hip Hop, or otherwise) from a solo artist, ever. I’d even make the argument that Eminem is at least 30-40% responsible for Hip Hop reaching the widespread pop audience it enjoys today. In other words, Eminem can’t go pop…because he practically defined pop. Dude made a Purple Rain-styled, vanity project of a film, won an Academy Award off that shit, made a mediocre 4th album that still sold 5 million copies (Encore), took a four year hiatus, and then came back with an album with no hit singles that still sold more copies than any other rap album last year and even won best Rap Album at the Grammys. In fact, he’s won Best Rap Album four times!

Like I said, Eminem is the definition of pop; because pop, by definition, refers to popularity, i.e. what’s popular. It doesn’t get any more popular than Eminem. He can basically do whatever he wants, and it’ll probably sell, and at least some people will like it. So Eminem is not going pop, he’s just being smart, and choosing not to rest on his laurels. The guy’s on his sixth album; don’t you think it’s time he started working with producers other than Dr. Dre and himself? Isn’t it about time he shared a track with someone other than 50 Cent and D fucking 12? Does anybody even like D12? If anything, Recovery is a risk for Eminem, not a sure thing.

No one has even heard the album yet, so it’s ridiculous to pass judgment on it anyway. But if anything, Recovery’s tracklisting and preliminary production credits has me more excited for this album than ever. The guy not only seems focused, energized and inspired, but he’s also left his comfort zone and chosen to challenge himself creatively. For that, he gets my stamp of approval.

And as for the actual music…I’ll let you know after June 22nd.

Recovery Tracklisting:

01. Cold Wind Blows
02. Talkin’ 2 Myself (feat. Kobe)
03. On Fire
04. Won’t Back Down (feat. Pink)
05. W.T.P.
06. Going Through Changes
07. Not Afraid
08. Seduction
09. No Love (feat. Lil Wayne)
10. Space Bound
11. Cinderella Man
12. 25 to Life
13. So Bad
14. Almost Famous
15. Love the Way You Lie (feat. Rihanna)
16. You’re Never Over