Eminem Presents: The Re-Up (Shady Records/Interscope Records), began as a street mixtape project--an underground, unofficial CD with raw production values--designed to help launch new Shady Records artists Stat Quo, Ca$his and Bobby Creekwater. "But what happened is that the material was so good and the tracks were getting produced like a regular album," said Eminem. "Instead of putting it out there rough and unfinished, I thought we should add some other new tracks, make it a real album, and put it in the record stores to give these new artists a real boost." The album was executive produced by Eminem, who also produced the majority of the songs. A handful of selections were produced by The Alchemist, who also compiled the album in true mixtape fashion. The Alchemist is best known for his work with Cypress Hill, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Mobb Deep, and Jadakiss.
Each of the tracks makes its official CD debut on Eminem Presents: The Re-Up, though Stat Quo's "Billion Bucks," and Obie Trice's "Cry Now" (Remix), produced by LT Moe, was recently released on mixtapes and to radio. The first single and video will be "You Don't Know" from Eminem, 50 Cent, Ca$his and Lloyd Banks. With Eminem and Ca$his from the Shady camp and 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks from G-Unit, the rap illustrates the unity of the two organizations.
The Re-Up also gave acclaimed hip-hop producer The Alchemist a chance to work with Shady's new regime. After joining forces on-stage as Eminem's DJ on last year's Anger Management 3 tour, Alchemist and the Shady camp began collaborating in the studio. This new album features the results of this anticipated collaboration with new tracks produced by The Alchemist featuring Stat Quo, Ca$his, Bobby Creekwater and Obie Trice.
Among the album's other recordings are "No Apologies" from Eminem; "Talkin' All That" from Ca$his; "City Of Gold" from Bobby Creekwater; "Murder" from Bizarre and Kuniva (both of D12); and The "Smack That (Remix)" with Akon.
Stat Quo, hailing from Atlanta, was signed to a joint deal between Shady Records and Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment after Eminem and Dre heard him on the Underground Atlanta mixtape series. Creekwater, also from Atlanta, was inked after Eminem heard his work on demos and in the studio with The Alchemist. Ca$his, a Chicago native transplanted in his youth to Orange Co., California, was a member of West Coast underground favorites The Renegadez.
Rampant misinformation about Eminem Presents: The Re-Up included many false internet tracklistings and that the mixtape would be a tribute to D12's Proof, the recently slain rapper and close friend of Eminem. "The D12 album and those unreleased songs with Proof are coming," said Eminem. "But The Re-Up is about these new artists and these new songs. It isn't fair to them or to the memory of Proof to mix them up."
On The Slim Shady LP, Eminem wants it all. He's conflicted, you see; the world has treated him badly, and he wants to respond in kind. But he isn't a straight-up gangsta--this is, after all, the first release on Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records, his post-Death Row-era venture--and Eminem (born Marshall Mathers) doesn't really want anyone to follow in his footsteps, which leads to some interesting contradictions on this album. In the first single, "My Name Is," he's self-deprecating, rapping about his poor upbringing and his hairy palms. But on the very next song, "Guilty Conscience," he plays the devil to Dr. Dre's angel--that is, until Eminem brings up an incident from Dre's devilish past, rapping, "You gonna take advice from someone who slapped Dee Barnes?" Later, on "'97 Bonnie & Clyde," he turns Will Smith's "Just the Two of Us" on its ear, making it a tale of murder; but on "My Fault," he actually feels bad--though whether it's for the girl he overdosed or for himself is tough to figure out. With his nasal Midwestern tone, Mathers has a clean, clear flow, and the production--by Dr. Dre, Marky, and Jeff Bass--is crisp but consistently fun. With his outlook, it's tough to take Eminem too seriously, but he's made an album you don't have to take seriously to enjoy.
Eminem's fourth album offers few surprises, but still enough pleasures to carry the day. As evinced by Em's pre-election, pro-voting "Mosh," this is not exactly the same Eminem who seemingly crapped on anything and everything. Encore finds a surprisingly mature Eminem waxing reflective about his battle with Benzino ("Like Toy Soldiers") rather than unloading both barrels. However, it's not all elder statesmanship: "Puke" goes after his ex-wife Kim with incredible scorn, and "Big Weenie" showcases the familiar juvenile humor that made him famous. If Encore has a clear weakness, it's the bland production--the same plodding sound that he and Dr. Dre cooked up on the previous three albums. The exotic flavor of "Ass Like That" catches the ear, but many others run off the same monotonous minor-key melodies and tempos. Of course, people buy Eminem albums to hear him spit first and foremost, and in that regard few fans will be disappointed by Encore; it'd just be nice to see him switch up his sound at some point.