Eminem Presents: The Worst Rap Album of the Year
I don't know why I had any expectations for this one. I really don't. Maybe I have the musical version of battered wife syndrome and only choose to remember the good times. The day I purchased The Slim Shady LP and was blown away by its caustic wit, its complex but hilarious rhymes, its alternately real and cartoonish storytelling. Or the backpacker-wowing Soundbombing II song. Or the raw verse on Sway and Tech's "The Anthem where he held his own with Kool G Rap, Xzibit, Rza, Pharoahe Monch and KRS-One. Or the hip-hop quotable "Forgot About Dre" verse from Chronic 2001 or the Jay-Z incinerating "Renegage" Blueprint performance. Take your pick.
That was a long time ago. But still, there was something about The Re-Up that intrigued me. Maybe Proof's death would bring increased introspection, conceptual growth and evolution. Or maybe I bought the pre-release hype spouted by Shady himself. Either way, the album is worse than I ever could've imagined, nothing but 70-plus minutes and 22 tracks worth of tired boasts, shamelessly false gun talk, exhausted subject matter, and no-talent parasitic Shady Records weed carrier guest appearances. This is a CD made to fill bargain-basement CD sales from here to eternity.
With the Re-Up, Eminem demonstrates how empty his tank is, how few ideas are left for him to puncture, exactly how many trips to Brokeback Mountain he and 50 have made. Make no mistakes about it, this isn't art, this is the Roc La Familia of Shady Records. Except that Freeway, Memphis Bleek and Beanie Siegel are Biggie, Nas and 'Pac compared to Shady Records' tribe of weed carrying no-talents, Bobby Creekwater, Stat Quo, and Ca$his.
over Scarface rip-off synths that Giorgio Moroder could probably sue over. During the minute-long track, Eminem brags about how vicious his crew of D-12, 50 Cent, Obie Trice and the new weed carriers are. At one point, he boasts about how new signee Ca$his is from Orange County. I'm not sure if he's supposed to be joking. What's the guy going to rap about? How much he doesn't like surfing and/or wearing Quicksilver/Hurley/Volcom clothing?
The second track, "We're Back" is a completely forgettable posse cut featuring Em, Obie Trice, Stat Quo, Bobby Creekwater and Ca$his. Rather than sound ferocious (which I imagine was his intent) Eminem sounds like Screech during Saved By the Bell: The New Class: much too old and desperate to stay relevant. But instead of feebly trying to crack his voice like Samuel J. Powers, Eminem instead screams incessantly, the yells of a 34-year old man, completely stripped of his trademark nasally pitch, left with a dull non-menacing rasp.
As for the new weed jockeys, they fall flat too, delivering weak cliches and weaker similes like "Stat Quo's "I treat the mic like the block." At one point, Stat Quo declares that "critics are expecting me to underachieve." Uh yeah....and they were right. Meanwhile Creekwater sounds like Paul Wall for retards, which is kind of amazing because Paul Wall is basically Bubba Sparxx for retards. The OC-bred Ca$his wisely opts not to talk about Billabong or Seth Cohen, instead using the platform to declare that "to the block he's the truth, to the cops he's the proof." He also compares himself to Al Capone and claims that he's lived the "street life." Laguna Beach represent!
Shady Records: Where Gun Talk is Fun TalkThe Obie Trice cut "Pistol Pistol Remix" finds Eminem screaming ad-libs in the background, somehow managing to out-obnoxious even Kay Slay and DJ Drama. Trice's rapping isn't bad, as he's clearly the best rapper signed to Shady Records. But his lyrical content raises the existential question: if Obie Trice writes the same songs over and over again and no one notices the difference, do they actually exist? In the meantime, back on the O.C., Ca$his fails again misterable on the creatively titled "Everything is Shady" (get it because that's like not only Eminem's nickname but it's like totally the name of the label.). On this absurdly bad song, Ca$his speaks of dealing "bricks" and that his homeboys will "clap you down." Presumably, with their long boards.
"The Re-Up" finds Eminem and 50 trading verses. Eminem claims he is a "killer," he's "sinister," yadda, yadda, yadda. Meanwhile 50 sounds like a little retarded child whom someone thought it would be funny to see what they'd sound like rapping. "Jimmy Crack Corn" shows Eminem at his most lyrically barren, futilely trying to flip a nursery rhyme. Apparently, he and 50 Cent now take song ideas from Jibbs. "Trapped" features a 58 second rap from Proof that only serves to posthumously prove exactly how mediocre the fallen rapper was. "We Ride For Shady" is the year's worst weed-carrying anthem, as Obie Trice and Ca$his sing about how lucky they are to have been plucked out of obscurity and given the prestigious title of official Shady Records weed carriers.
And on and on it plummets. Song after grotesquely boring song featuring the abysmal Shady Records crew. We get a "Smack That" remix and a "Shake That" remix. We get a song so dumb that it shares the same name as a L'il Jon track: "Get Low." But ultimately, Eminem's utter decreptitude as an artistic force is revealed on his two solo tracks, "Public Enemy #1" and "No Apologies." Both songs are futile attempts to be "deep." On the former, Eminem spouts ridiculous and nonsensical conspiracy theories about the FBI assassinating JFK and Tupac, while hinting that he may be next. The latter track, "No Apologies" is a toothless tirade against his imaginary critics. Both delusional songs prove that either Eminem is schizophrenic or cynical, because his schtick about how the world hates him is getting pretty old. Dude, you're 34 years old. You've won 11 Grammy's, sold nearly 100 million records and been on the cover of every magazine ever. Get over yourself.
The truth is, Eminem Presents the Re-Up is two things. First and foremost, it's an excuse to sell records around Christmas-time to middle-aged mortgage brokers who think they're hip and to 13-year olds who just don't know any better. But more than that, it's also the last dying gasps of an artist who has lost his way, one who has nothing left to say. The cupboards are barren, the stash is emptied, the curtains are already shuttered. Will someone please tell Eminem that it's time to go home.
Download from Eminem Presents The Re-Up
Eminem, 50 Cent, Ca$his, Lloyd Banks: "You Don't Know" (right-click, save as)
Eminem: "No Apologies" (right-click, save as)
Bonus: Songs From When Eminem Actually Used to Be Good
Eminem: "Till Hell Freezes Over" (right-click, save as)
Eminem: "Kids" (right-click, save as)