CDs like these fuck up what the consumer thinks of the underground Hip-Hop "street mixtape" scene.
This project was initially rumored to be a mixtape in memory of Proof, and went from that to a mixtape showcasing the new acts that Shady/Aftermath have forthcoming. Apparently these tracks were so polished that Eminem decided to put this out as an official mixtape compilation thing, featuring beats largely from himself and The Alchemist (who kind of deviates from his normal, sample-driven style to a more homegrown sound), putting this on the shelves in every Best Buy that fake thugs can get to.
For shame, considering that guys like 50 Cent, who Eminem signed, were the direct product of the grimey, take-no-prisoners, leave-no-beat-unjacked school of mixtapes. You cop a mixtape on mixunit.com or at your local bodega, and you will get some real shit. Well, lyrically, it might be some fake shit, but you get the raw uncut shit. Polished mixtapes come off corny when they get a "proper" release, in my opinion, for they dilute what you are truly trying to do -- it's going from keeping your ear to the streets and creating that buzz to trying to create a buzz and create a mass-media dollar, which is a mixed message.
Take, for instance, the inclusion of new signee Ca$his on the lead-off single, "You Don't Know". Now this track features Em, Fiddy and Lloyd Banks alongside Ca$his. We get a 16 from Em, a shitty 16 from 50, and 8 bars of murder from Banks. Why does Ca$his have to share his bars with Banks? If I truly believed in someone, and thought enough of the mixtape I am making for them that I'd go ahead and turn it into an official Best Buy jump-off, why put a fucking bandana on their face and have them spit half of a weak verse? Why does the house that Dr. Dre built need another Tony Yayo?
And why does this feel like a glorified Eminem beat tape? Is he really trying to get put on beat-wise? That over cinematic, slow-creep of a beat bullshit... I think the comment he makes in the intro, "Shady Narcotics", fits well for his career right now: "I think it's about time we just cut the bullshit". For a mixtape that is to bring forth your new blood, why does Ca$his (who hails from the OC, apparently) have 2 solo tracks, and Bobby Creekwater (??) have 1 track? Fucking forever-in-the-background ass Stat Quo has a gang of solo tracks, Em and 50 have their own tracks all over... and Proof is only getting 58 seconds? Why does the best MC out of your crew, the one who died earlier this year, get almost a minute?
The saddest part of this is the fact that the established artists come off sub-par. "Whatever You Want", the track from D12 members Mr. Porter & Swifty McVay, is just boring -- remedial drums, odd choice of piano samples, and a lot of guntalk from guys who were just crying about their dead homey not too long ago. Great message. Em has the audacity to drop a mixtape with a track entitled "Public Enemy #1", and refused to use the original Public Enemy track? At least his flow is still intact -- Em, keep it on the mic! He also choosed to include a few tracks between himself and 50 the Soul Man. "Ski Mask Way" from 50's last LP gets a Remix treatment... *yawn*. And I don't really think it was clever of funny when Em ended his rhyme on "The Re-Up" with "Kiss my black ass!", even if 50 starts with "nah tell them to kiss my black ass". It's lazy, coming from a dude as ill as he. And do we really need to hear 50 talk about watching The Game like he was a "proud dad" -- why are you jacking Nas lines, don't you hate him? We then get treated to a remix of Akon's "Smack That", featuring throwaway verses from Bobby Creekwater (??!?!?) and Stat Quo ("ass so swole, have your boy like whoa"?)... why was this even included? Speaking of Stat, hearing his solo joints, I can tell why he has only dropped mixtapes and guest verses - no real "oomph" in his voice or lines, just some Xerox "gangsta-by-numbers" shit.
I don't hate all of the CD though. The 'Shady Remix' of Obie Trice's "Cry Now" is fire: funky bass, soaring, alternating horns. Obie is jacking mad flows, but he sounds good doing it. Eminem's "No Apologies" is vintage Eminem, him just going through what's going on in his life via his rhymes. I wish he would stay in that lane. Hearing Proof for just under a minute was dope, even if the clicks and booms in the beat are annoying. Sadly, that's about all I can truly say I like about this album.
All of the elements are there: a successful cast, loads of money in the bank, but I'm not sure what happened here. It's like the failures of 2006 (Lloyd's LP, Mobb Deep's LP, the loss of The Game, etc.) have backed the Shady/Aftermath camp into a corner, and instead of reinventing the wheel, they hit us with a "re-up" of some stepped on, Arm & Hammer-laden smack that, while it sounds good for the average dope fiend, leaves us junkies with a sore arm and an empty wallet. My only hope is that this CD does terrible numbers, so Eminem can either shit or get off the pot. His skills on the mic are on point when he isn't on the fart-joke nonsense of Encore, but he is not a thug, he was never a gangsta, and aside from signing 50 Robinson, he hasn't really found a G that works with his beats. Fuck a Re-Up, just be an MC and give us some raw in it's purest form.
rock the dub gives Eminem Presents: The Re-Up a 4 out of 10 stars for weak beats, weak delivery and a supporting cast that does not hold up the status of a faltering label. No apologies.
Eminem Presents: The Re-Up is available in all retail music outlets December 5th, 2006. More info here.